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Born Gold


[Hovercraft; 2011]

By ; December 6, 2011 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Cecil Frena’s background in hardcore music is something that is entirely evident in the string of singles he released over the course of the last year as GOBBLE GOBBLE. Though his work under that moniker, and now under his new Born Gold name, substitutes rapid-fire synth work and clattering programmed drums for chugging guitar riffs and double kick drum patterns, there’s something about the works that seem intrinsically linked. Even now, as he works in a much dancier world, the aggressiveness of former bands like snic remain well within his work, and certainly at times his blown out vocal runs are reminiscent of the type of singing he might have previously done.

Though informed by his previous musical efforts, Bodysongs remains a truly singular musical work in the midst of a climate so geared to trend-jumping. Frena’s brand of hyper-pop simply sounds like nothing else that’s out there today. Mixing glitchy electronic samples with a dancy aesthetic that sounds not too far from what Yeasayer might sound like on speed, Frena’s aural freakouts are truly visionary and refreshing in a world where much innovation is staved off by constant revivalism. Though he put out a full length record in 2009 as GOBBLE GOBBLE, our first real taste of this new aesthetic came with a string of singles last year (most of which are included here) that were untouchable as far as innovation and energy go.

The release of lead single “Lawn Knives” was one of the first times that Frena’s singularity became truly clear, and here it leads off the album. Through his surrealist lyrical imagery, an incredibly upbeat keyboard line, and the one of the catchiest vocal melodies of the past several years, Frena had me on board right from the start, and its inclusion at the front end of this album seems entirely appropriate. It seems the perfect introduction to Frena’s work as a whole, the aforementioned key features of the songs most apparent in this lead off track. Also returning from previous releases are “Eat Sun, Son,” “End Of Days,” “Boring Horror,” “Wrinklecarver,” and “Alabaster Bodyworlds.” Though it might be tempting to chastise Frena for compiling the majority of the album from previous releases, I hesitate to do so because of the astounding nature of these songs. The aforementioned “Eat Sun, Son” — which appeared on Heart Music Group’s 2010 compilation <3 alongside tracks from such hazy dance pop luminaries as Baths, Teen Daze, and Blackbird Blackbird — is just about the catchiest song you’ll hear all year. Some might take issue with the sort of nonsensical lyrical content that Frena so frequently spewed, as he does on “Eat Sun, Son,” but as far as surrealist lyrical efforts go, these are surprisingly well formed. Though he may or may not actually be saying anything important, the images that he chooses and the conviction with which he delivers them allow for a understanding of the lyrical content that transcends the mere literal meaning of the words. Though he may spew out such seemingly laughable lines as “Snip, snip, snip / I’m a woodland nymph,” they don’t come off that way when he says them. The belief that Frena has in this lines will have you singing along far before you realize what you’re actually saying and the absurdity that lies therein.

The new tracks too hold up to these previously released singles. I suppose the only real complaint you can make is that they’re just really good Born Gold tracks. There’s nothing that really elevates them above other songs on this album but they provide an even nature to this all too brief listening experience.

The only real criticism that I could see being leveled at this collection of songs is that it tends to come off a bit homogenous after repeated listening. That’s really only because Frena doesn’t allow a down moment on the album, each track provides the same dose of driving synth-pop and after a while it can be tiring — not in the sense that it becomes hard to listen to, but that your brain is being pummeled by the beats non-stop over the course of the album’s brief 28 minutes. I suppose that is the saving grace; it never really gets to a point where the album becomes actually tiresome because it ends just about when you’d want it to. Frena knows what he’s doing, and he has for quite some time. Bodysongs may be mostly the fruit of past works, but they’re works that deserve to be heard by a much wider audience than have previously paid him attention.


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