July can be a sleeper month for new music, but you will regret it if you sleep on Ian Ferguson’s debut record, State of Gold. A greasy, soulful, psychedelic romp of an album, State of Gold is equal parts groovy and dreamy, with Ferguson’s singular vocals guiding us along on a heady plume of smoke. The songs on State of Gold originated in Ferguson’s basement after he locked himself in, and whether by coincidence or intention, there is a gritty underground quality to them.
Drenched in California sunshine and dirtied with just the right amount of Southern twang, songs like the charging standout “Love Crime,” with its Beatles-esque pop melody, “All My Days,” with its hazy Nilsson daze, “I Do Not Mind,” with its pounding keys and tripped-out backing vocals, and “Tyrants Waltz,” with its woozy guitar shredding, give Ferguson’s debut a sense of well-rounded cohesion. He clearly loves a soft, sweet earworm of a pop song as much as he loves some gnarly garage rock, and State of Gold finds him landing in just the right spot where each piece fits together just so.
On the quieter “I Fell Asleep Before the Night Began,” Ferguson crafts perhaps the most chill song about FOMO (fear of missing out, for the newbs) ever, singing softly alongside his guitar about sitting down on the couch and passing out, despite best laid plans to party. Ferguson finds his most confident swagger with the album’s title track, though. Its intense finale of guitars is especially impressive when you consider that Ferguson pulled multi-instrument duty on this record, playing everything, including guitars, bass, drums, and even his own layered harmonies. “State of Gold” busts out with a wiggly guitar riff that demands to be noticed and doesn’t let you look away until it drops its final note.