With spring nearly here, the only ice most of us want to deal with is Ice Glitter Gold, Dana Buoy’s latest album. The Portland-based act, made up of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Dana Janssen (of Akron/Family) and long-time collaborator Justin Miller, have delivered a psychedelic indie synth-pop album that just feels good and summery – most of the time. The album starts with a high-energy bang, mellows out in the middle, picks back up for a track, then just ends in a whimper.
The album starts strong with the first three tracks all providing high-energy indie pop. “Twisted Sky,” with lyrics that sound like a drug trip, sounds like arena rock in the best sense. The thumping bass and vocals delivered with a sneer sound powerful and a little sinister. The title track is fun electronic indie pop and sounds like summer – a welcome sound these days. The drum machine and synth mixes well with a fuzzy guitar break. “Whatever” is a feel-good pop song with lyrics that state it’s OK that a relationship didn’t work out. It’s got jangly guitars, tumbling drums, and great energy.
The album changes pretty drastically after the first three songs: gone is the happy dance party, in comes the more psychedelic indie pop. “Colours Out” (spelled correctly in the Queen’s English, by the way,) is more flowy with dramatic electronics. The drama kills the feel-good buzz created by the first three songs, but it does set the mood for the next song. “Let Go Awhile” has minimal synth, big guitar solos, and layered vocal harmonies that bring Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to mind. The lyrics – which are just “how do I let go for a while” repeated – seem to signal that the party from the beginning of the album (and in real life) can’t go on forever. “Bloom” sounds like mid-‘90s alternative rock/Britpop/electronica, it’s like Elastica mixed with Blur’s “Song 2.” “Too Early” brings back the fun indie pop from earlier. It sounds like Nada Surf’s “Always Love,” but more fun and upbeat – it’s about starting a new relationship. The wavy synth, strong beat, soft vocals, shimmery electronic, and electric guitar sound like it could have been featured on the soundtrack to Laguna Beach – in a good, California-vibe, radio-friendly, 2006 pop-rock way. The album doesn’t end as strongly as it began, though; “Only One,” a love song full of monogamous devotion, is kind of pastoral with sweeping synth that builds to a storm of guitars, yet it’s still kind of dull. While I can imagine what they were going for here, it just doesn’t build the drama and is kind of a let-down to a strong album.
There is a wide range of styles mixed into the indie synth pop in these eight tracks and it works well on the individual songs, though it’s not the most cohesive album when played in its entirety. Still, it’s a well-crafted album with enjoyable songs – aside from a couple of mellow tracks, it’s a mostly feel-good, mostly dance-able record that should help us all hang on until the actual ice is gone summer is here for real.