MIMO - When Music is Your Fix

Gold Fields “Black Sun” –Album Review

Astralwerks (2013)

As the latest band to further cement Australia’s reputation as the hotbed of indie-disco talent, it seems fair to say that Gold Fields aren’t short on confidence. The quintet initially recorded debut album Black Sun with producers Mickey Petralia (Ladytron, Peaches) and Scott Horscroft (Sleepy Jackson, Silverchair), before deciding that actually, they could do the whole record entirely themselves.

Ditching the glamour of Los Angeles for the mundanity of a garage in their hometown of Ballarat, the group’s DIY ethos has more than paid off. Admittedly, Black Sun might not offer anything different from the wave of 80s-obsessed synth-rock acts (Cut Copy, Canyons, Empire Of The Sun) that have emerged from the band’s homeland since the mid-00s. But as an homage to the era that taste forgot, the album consistently delivers the goods.

Indeed, other than “Moves,” an out-of place attempt at early Klaxons-esque nu-rave featuring a shoehorned-in techno breakdown, its eleven tracks could easily be mistaken for an I Love The 80s compilation.

Opener “Meet My Friends” blends frontman Mark Fuller’s falsetto tones with the Aussie rock melodies of Midnight Oil, the brooding “Ice” sounds like The Cure given a Balearic makeover, whilst “You’re Still Gone” echoes the seminal dance-rock of New Order’s Technique.

But Gold Fields aren’t averse to tackling the cornier side of 80s pop, either. “Happy Boy” begins with an eerie piano hook reminiscent of John Carpenter’s Halloween theme before a burst of jazz-bar saxophone creates an altogether less spooky Spandau Ballet vibe. Meanwhile, there are also shades of ABC on the melodramatic glossy new-wave pop of “Thunder” and Level 42 on the bass-driven funk of “Closest I Could Get.”

Originality, therefore, might not exactly be Gold Fields’ strong point. But when they’re capable of producing something as effortlessly authentic and vibrant as Black Sun, then it’s difficult to begrudge them their 80s fixation.

4 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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