A rarely seen blend of post-rock, emo and bursts of post-hardcore is what brought Gates to the attention of many with their 2014 debut ‘Bloom and Breathe’. Their uniqueness was emphasised with the release being under Pure Noise, a label with a predominantly pop-punk repertoire with artists such as The Story So Far and Boston Manor. Grafting hard to avoid the unfortunately frequent so-called sophomore slump, Gates are back with ‘Parallel Lives’ nearly two years later.
An airy and ethereal listen from start to finish with little to get stuck in your head lyrically, the New Jersey quintet arguably aimed to focus more on creating their own atmospheric soundscape that strays from the path to grab attention rather than using the normal techniques. ‘Forget’ floats in as the opener with delicate percussion rising to a soft, synthy upsurge towards the end. ‘Eyes’ is haunting throughout with Kevin Dye’s forlorn vocal work being the centre point while ‘Shiver’ has more of an uplifting background with soft guitar strums and the rare find of more catchy but still ever so poignant lyricism.
Elsewhere, ‘Color Worn’ is echo-filled, joined with subtle harmonies but an interesting more electronic introduction. ‘Fade’ is stripped back, honest and warming to listen to with its almost lullaby-like structure. Perhaps ‘Fade’ would’ve been better as a closing track for the album as you’re abruptly jolted awake by the bouncy ‘Penny’ next which incorporates a fun, choppy riff. Finishing off, title track ‘Parallel Lives’ settles back into the previous melancholy softness that runs through the record.
It seems Gates may still be finding a solidified direction in music since ditching the post-hardcore elements but perhaps experimentation is just what they were trying to with their previous work. However, if you’re looking for some reflection time, this album’s for you.
’Parallel Lives’ by Gates is released on June 3rd on Pure Noise Records.
Words by Phoebe Messenger (@kangaezu_ni)