There are moments—most notably during “Mop It Up”—where the Denver duo Gauntlet Hair comes off like a fuzzed-out, wall-of-sound, grunge-y shoegaze version of Givers without Tiffany Lamson. Even as Gauntlet Hair’s songs are fast-paced, uptempo and skyward-bound, they are sleepy, bogged down by their own blanket of reverb. The band’s proclivities to upbeat guitar licks and hazy echoing cacophony are constantly in tension in Gauntlet Hair’s sound, part foggy and part lucidly indie.
The album’s single, “Top Bunk,” measures Andy R.’s chirpy guitar riffs and hoarsely Cobainish singing against the weight of Craig Nice’s kick drum and a whole soundboard of audio effects that create a clangorous din. Often Nice’s drumbeats sound more like a drum machine than a live human, occasionally thumping out a danceable beat as in “Keep Time.” A few listens into Gauntlet Hair and its charms start to coalesce—Givers without the twee, Born Ruffians run through a soundboard like a blender. It starts to lurch all right, Nice’s drum throbbing like a heart.
In Gauntlet Hair‘s nine tracks, the band is able to align itself with an identifiable post-grunge, high-energy shoegaze that stands out on tracks like “That’s Your Call.” Nice’s drum breakdrown seems to give way to Andy R.’s resounding vocals like clouds parting for fog. The two coexist nicely in that way, trading off their moments in the spotlight and often combining into one sound wash. And well they should, because R. and Nice have been playing together since high school, giving them plenty of time to mold their debut out of unpolished fuzzy rock and raw emotion.