Two Gallants - Bloom And Blight
Whilst certain folk are happy to blend in and enthuse in the re-arranged folk of Marcus Mumford and co, there's a certain other longing for a band with real folk and blues guts and glory. Rather than cracking open a CD that many people have commented on as looking like an M&S advert full of chunky knitwear and potentially featuring Gary Barlow whimpering in the background somewhere, real men with real music instead comes courtesy of Two Gallants' Tyson Vogel and Adam Stephens. An emphatic live style and churning new album titled The Bloom and The Blight sees the duo regroup on their musical conquest, Stephens happy to declare that the album is a "release of tension" and "cathartic." Too right it is!
Understated and old-school rockings on opener 'Halcyon Days' are an ear-engaging listen, hinting at potential to bring down the juggernauting Black Keys, and being an all-male American alternative to Blood Red Shoes. Matched riffs of fury and angry vocals from Stephens creep together with Vogel's accompanying vocals and drum work, creating something of an onslaught; a theme continued with 'Song of Songs'.
Tricking you into believing the teenage-friends and house-party goers might be a little more tamed, the opening of 'My Love Won't Wait' seems calm against the colourful chords and fuzzy vocals. Let it be known though that this is the tip of the iceberg, as gritty rock phases flail grungily later on in the track, an indication perhaps of their house-party carnage of yester years back in the duo's hometown of San Francisco. If the antics were akin to their sound all these years later, you'd assume their parties were the place to be and that maybe even today there's a legacy of kids spray-painting walls with their holy names. Maybe, just maybe.
The poignancy of 'Broken Eyes' and 'Decay' – the latter of which is a story of how things outside of your control can harm yourself – seem maybe a little lost on the album, though they're anything but vacant as the passion and grit seeps through. Energy arrives back on the table in the form of 'Cradle Pyre' that blends a classic American rock sound with their calmer folk side too, with the album then subtly concluded by 'Sunday Souvenirs'. An underrated but charming 3 minutes seems delicate and surreally tame considering the crazy sweeps and vigour they've carried you through earlier. On the plus side, at least there's no chunky knitwear, corduroy trousers or greying handkerchiefs in sight.
If anything, Two Gallants are like a vintage muscle car – powerful in the bends and crammed full of vibrant history and stories to tell, even if they can be a little slow on the straights and carry some expensive repair bills occasionally.