Gig Review: Gold & Youth – Thekla, Bristol – Sunday 20th October

Gold and YouthPlaying almost underwater on a wet and wintry October Sunday night somehow suited Canadian electro-pop quartet Gold & Youth‘s stormy set at Bristol’s Thekla. Supporting Keston Cobblers Club and To Kill a King on the second date of their short UK tour, Gold & Youth‘s musical style has been tagged as ‘miserablist’ by some reviewers. But while there is something brooding about their 80s influenced rock-synth-pop fusion, theirs was definitely a ‘middle of a thunderstorm’ excitement with lots of toe-tapping rhythm and neat, catchy melodies which seem destined for large venues. Think New Order, Depeche Mode, The Cure and (though they’d probably hate this) even shades of The Killers‘ stadium-sized tunes. Dressed in the regulation indie-kid uniform of black, black and big geek-style glasses, these four were nonetheless smiling, chatty and relaxed, thanking the audience effusively for listening while self-deprecatingly remarking that they’re used to playing “just to the bartender” at this point in the evening. And though it was a short set, there was no doubt that Gold & Youth definitely had the audience’s attention throughout. Opening track “Little Wild Love” set the tone: a polished and powerful stomper of a song which showcases the big vocal talents of lead male singer Matthew Lyall, threaded through with atmospheric guitar hooks and backed up by delicate keyboard melodies. Newish recruit to the band and sole female member Louise Burns (formerly of The Racoons) got her chance to shine on “Jewel”, a catchy Blondie-esque number. Her chocolatey voice provides an important foil to the darkness of the band’s sound overall: helping to lighten, lift and round off all of their tunes, whether she is leading or backing on vocals. Drummer Jeff Mitchelmore pulled it all together with remarkable finesse, helping the band anchor the electro elements of their music with his timing and energy. The last song on the set list, Gold & Youth debut single “Time to Kill” was dark and portentous and the most dancey of the lot. But though its sparse production left room for the two lead singers to work their voices together, it didn’t feel as fresh as the other songs and ended the performance on a slight anti-climactic note. Overall, however, while Gold & Youth‘s performance during this short set hints at exciting things to come, it can’t help feeling like they are capable of more. They’re certainly good at turning a catchy melody into a confident tune, and both lead singers have big voices which sound like they deserve to reach many more ears than they got on Sunday. But it’s also true that their influences are still a little too obvious and easy to detect: perhaps they need to work on developing a sound that is more unique – a sound that can’t be easily likened to anything – or anyone – else. Signed to artsy independent Canadian label Arts and Crafts (also home to singer Feist of Apple ad fame), Gold & Youth also played London and Leeds on their visit to the UK. Their debut album ‘Beyond Wilderness’ is out in the UK on November 4th. Find out more about the band at their Facebook page and their official website. Review by Hannah Bailey While you’re here… The Fix is delighted to support independent film and to be involved with comedy/drama series The Awkward Conversations We Have.  Here’s the opener, titled, Son We’re Swingers: