You’re not supposed to be able to have your cake and eat it too. I suppose you could buy two cakes, eat one and put the other on display, but baked goods aren’t really the point.
You’re not supposed to be able to have your cake and eat it too. I suppose you could buy two cakes, eat one and put the other on display, but baked goods aren’t really the point. The point is that eating destroys the having and having keeps you from eating. They’re contradictory ideas.
The thing that I love most about Goldrush and their debut full-length, titled Greatest Hits, is that contradictory ideas find a way to mingle harmoniously, and as a result, everyone gets to have AND eat all sorts of tasty musical goodness.
(And I’m not just talking about the band’s decision to name their first full album Greatest Hits…)
Take the album’s mood. As is the case with some of the group’s previous recordings, there’s an undeniable brightness to the new record. A certain degree of radiance is simply baked into the Goldrush experience — between frontman Prabir Mehta’s expressive vocals, Treesa Gold’s shining violin and the band’s knack for writing catchy hooks, it’s just kind of there. But there’s darkness “there,” too. Second track “If You Want Me” kicks off with a yearning two-part string arrangement, laying a bittersweet foundation for a tune that ends with a major chord but conveys major doubts as to whether the narrator’s devotion will be rewarded. There’s also the more minor-sounding “You Won’t See Me Crying” — a title I just love, as it can mean two exactly opposite things — and strolling blues tune “Stuck And Lonely.” Scattering patches of bleakness and ambiguity beneath an overarching banner of lightness makes for a wonderfully multidimensional listen, and it’s something you can come back to, whether you want to feel good or bad.
Musically, there’s just as much depth to celebrate. Yes, we’re dealing with pop music here, but Matt and Treesa Golds’ classical backgrounds bring so much more to the table.
Before going any further, I should make clear that pitting pop vs. substance is silly. Some of the greatest, most substantial music ever made was considered pop in its day, and plenty of today’s popular artists are bringing elements of classical music to the table. But the way Goldrush combines styles feels especially smart and tasteful to me. You won’t find a glut of layering on Greatest Hits, nor will you find outlandish instrumentation choices — tendencies that can plague albums that are labeled, either willingly or unwillingly, “chamber pop.” Instead, what you have is two savvy musicians who work well together, adding complementary tonal commentary (the accompaniment on “Pursuit of Happiness” is a portrait of grace and restraint) and bracketing the group’s low and high ends (“Om Shanti” explores both extremes without feeling the slightest bit disconnected). With Matt and Treesa in the mix, you get to enjoy a wider range of possibilities, but you’re not forced to let go of the tight efficiency that makes pure pop so satisfying. It really is the best of both worlds.
For the purposes of this review, it’s extremely convenient that Goldrush decided to kick off their new album (as well as the album’s promotion) with “Pale Blue Dot (For Carl)” — an ode to astronomer Carl Sagan, who happens to be one of my favorite people as well. It was Sagan’s belief that, despite the fact that Earth is a tiny speck in the vast ocean of space, our goals for extra-planetary exploration must be immense in order for humankind to survive. He looked straight into our insignificance and saw a life form worth going to the ends of the universe to save staring back at him. Now there’s a dude who knew how to have his cake and eat it too.