“Grew up overnight and left in broad daylight” sings lead vocalist and keyboardist Greta Morgan of Gold Motel – a statement that aptly epitomizes her band’s musical growth. The Chicago-based indie-pop band originally began as a side project for Morgan after her pop quartet, The Hush Sound (one of the first bands signed to Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz Fueled by Ramen Label) went on hiatus in 2009.
Morgan, teamed with guitarist and vocalist Dan Duszynski, guitarist Eric Hehr, bass player Bobby Lord (formerly Matt Minx), and drummer Billy Klein (formerly Adam Coldhouse) managed to create a laid-back, charm-ridden style that deceptively clashes with their melancholy, soul-baring lyrics. Morgan’s sweet, optimistic, and rich vocal tone helps combat somber lyrics in a manner reminiscent of Jenny Lewis from Rilo Kiley.
Summer House, the quintet’s first full-length studio album, set the tone for the band’s smooth and vintage, 60’s style pop sound. “The Cruel One”, an upbeat, optimistic-sounding song demonstrates their bittersweet feel, commenting— It’s quicker than you think/Sadness spreads out like ink on the road and on the sea/On the roof and balcony.
While their first album offers listeners and overall sense of the band’s passion and talent, it’s their sophomore album, self-titled Gold Motel that truly showcases their full abilities. “Brand New Kind of Blue” jumpstarts the album with a catchy guitar melody and upbeat vocals that cleverly juxtapose the lyrics harsher realities.
“Musicians,” Duszynski’s solo track, continues their lively feel with clashing lyrics based in non-fiction that emphasize the more dismal realities associated with being a musician. Duszynski notes – Most of my friends are musicians in the subway stations/Making amends with a dark and different world/Paying their dues like a faulty underwater mortgage/Taking their cues from a non-existent fantasy girl. The upbeat, bubbly music and vocals are matched fiercely with heavy insights about life in a band.
The album’s instant standout tracks, “Slow Emergency” and “Cold Shoulder”, continue the band’s traditional easy, vibrant sound, while showcasing deft guitar chords and Morgan’s Blondie-esque vocals. Tracks like “In Broad Daylight” and “Your Own Ghost” fully realize Gold Motel’s growth and willingness to take more adventurous risks.
Gold Motel’s musical expansion is perhaps best explained by Morgan herself, who ends the album with “Leave You in Love” explaining – We didn’t move on, we didn’t change/We didn’t move on, we just moved away.
By Courtney Johnston