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Gold Dime
No More Blue Skies Alex Deller , October 26th, 2023 08:11

The third album from NY art punks Gold Dime sees the band achieve an enviable feat: staying true to a distinct, established sound while pushing outward and expanding their sonic palette

Lean and yet lush, No More Blue Skies might boom slightly less than 2019’s My House but it is more richly arranged, the sound built out with sax and strings as mastermind Andrya Ambro carefully details a beguiling series of stark, spidery vignettes. Thoughtfulness and immediacy are judiciously balanced, and the band’s adrenalised rock ‘n’ roll spirit is meticulously steeped in a worldview that encompasses poetry, jazz, avant-pop and arthouse cinema. 

Opener ‘Denise’ lays out the album’s ambitious scope, its lunging, walls-closing-in layers of sax pushing and pulling against insistent basslines, fragmentary guitarwork and Ambro’s intense, keening vocals. If the opening track attempts to engulf, follow up ‘Wasted Wanted’ does what it can to keep you at a wary distance, scraping itself together with a haunted fairground’s worth of sounds: fucked, seesawing rhythms; rusty creaks and the incongruous pitter-pay of overexcited handclaps. Elsewhere nerve-tightening electronic pulses collide with wild ululations (‘We Lose Again’), while other tracks feature mischievous musical drop-offs (‘Beneath Below’) and deafening jet engine swooshes (‘Interpretations’). 

The album’s startling diversity is both summed up and unified by Ambro’s most overt contributions. Vocally, she provides everything from smoke-curl whispers and spoken word storytelling to vast, howling exhortations that conjure visions of vast flocks of black-winged birds taking flight. No More Blue Skies also showcases her deft, intricate skill as a percussionist: variegated, resourceful and suiting each song perfectly, but capable of blowing your mind when you zone in to fully investigate exactly what it is she’s doing.

Taken as a whole, there’s a strange, hard-to-pinpoint semi-familiarity to the music, whether it’s chest-poundingly anthemic or as skittish as a hurried, worried 2AM rummage through the cutlery drawer to find the biggest, sharpest kitchen knife. You can readily detect the clacky insistence of The Ex and the bony clatter of The Birthday Party, for instance. More so, though, there’s a sense of certain unlikely pairings: Big|Brave meeting Ut, say, or Enablers teaming up with Sleater-Kinney. That it’s hard to fully define is ultimately one of the album’s great strengths: it’s an alone thing operating in a one-off space of Ambro’s own imagining – one where miniature, finely-crafted noirsterpieces spring scratchily to life, full of black-and-white scenes documenting haunted, chainsmoking loners as they stumble towards their inevitable, self-inflicted doom.