by Chris Familton
In the five years since their last record Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel played in different bands and in Stephen’s case spent time recovering from a van accident. Reconvening as Two Gallants seemingly allowed them to reflect on the experiences of those years and create a batch of songs that swing wildly between restrained folk music and raw, purgatorial moments of intensity.
The grand gesture of Halcyon Days opens the album, showcasing the range of emotion in their sound. The riffs are big and bold, the vocal cords are pushed to the limit and the drums are used like a battering ram. yet amongst the heaviness there are glimpses of nostalgia and reflection that counterpoint the song’s sonic agitation. It sets the album up perfectly as a brittle, demanding and often frustrating listen but just as you get onto their wavelength the channel changes to the comparatively mellow rumination of Broken Eyes and Decay and though they are good songs the listener is too quickly thrown back into Two Gallants’ rock extremities. It’s that push and pull that creates the feeling of no middle ground, a barren plateau between the valleys and peaks. When they do combine the best of both worlds into a single track they can sound magnificent.Winter’s Youth does just that with crashing choruses and almost hymnal verses while Willie plays it straighter with a jaunty, playful vibe that lightens the mood considerably.
In terms of Americana music Two Gallants sit in strange place. They work equally effectively on intimate and epic scales and generally speaking all the songs here are of a high quality, yet by trying to combine the full spectrum of their music into twelve songs and forty minutes it comes off as disappointingly chaotic and disjointed.