It might seem strange to call a band that plays live shows full of thrashing energy subtle, but Gospel Gossip's new EP, Dreamland, is full of subtleties. The six-song record tightens up the sound from 2007's Sing into My Mouth, relying less on extended jams in favor of denser, mutating song structures that signal a young band taking greater control of their melodies and making what could have just been a pleasant wash into an enveloping cocoon of sound.
The degree of control is evident in the surprising textures throughout the disc—Ollie Moltaji's stutter-step drums punctuate the bridge of opener "Nashville" (a song that garnered praise from the poobahs at Pitchfork) and kick up the straightforward guitars-and-distortion fuzz. Justin Plank's bass lines pulse throughout, but really drive "Home," propelling the song through Sarah Nienaber's crackling guitar and breathy voice. That voice is something of a Chimera-like beast; it seems to be fixed between fierce howls and a delicate disappearance—apt for a band that balances cinematic sweeps of fuzz with piercing melodies.
With the first half of the record being narrative songs about relationships and moving on, the B-side is given over to more instrumentation with only occasional bursts of vocals. "Space/Time" and "Big Steer" are energetic breakdowns that bring in some of the tectonic energy of Gospel Gossip live. The title track closer lives up to its name; it's a slow burning fuse lit by Moltaji and carried by Nienaber's vocals and guitars as the elements fall hauntingly into place. The pace builds and the track smolders; it is a record that makes you want to curl up on a bare mattress with your lover and count the stars through the ceiling.