Iím not quite sure if the name Gyroscope means anything to anyone outside of Australia at the moment. Well, apart from those of you who automatically think of that great indie band on Barsuk who had a song on their classic (and best) album bearing this title. Or perhaps the name conjures up thoughts of a song by a Nordic band with slightly larger metal leanings. Or perhaps the mechanics and engineers among us will start thinking of something else altogether. You may now be thinking, how is this relevant to anything in particular? The answer is that it isnít, I just thought Iíd address a few issues that arose last time I reviewed material from this Perth, Western Australian rock/punk crossover band known as Gyroscope, or Gyro as their fans affectionately call them.
Are You Involved? is Gyroscopeís sophomore record and second for Australian major label Festival Mushroom -- which is linked to Universal, if Iím not mistaken. It is the followup to 2004ís Sound Shattering Sound. This is probably of no interest to anyone because as of five minutes ago most of youíd never heard of this band. What may be of some interest is the fact that the band traveled to L.A. to work with Mark Trombino (Jimmy Eat World, Blink-182) to record the album at his Ocean Studio. From my understanding, the group got in contact with Trombino through friends Hoppus and Barker. Originally there was some talk that Hoppus would take the reigns for this album, but that never eventuated. After listening to MCSís Commit This to Memory, I can safely say that that was in no way a bad thing. Trombinoís work on this is quite strong and certainly helps the band achieve a fuller, more realized sound than on previous recordings.
I said after the last album that Gyroscope had created their own thing. Are You Involved? further builds on their distinct sound that is somewhere between Blueline Medic, Sparta and the aforementioned Dismemberment Plan. However, there are some noticeable expansions to that sound on some of the material here. Third track "Beware Wolf" sounds like Dan got vocal lessons from the guy in the Bouncing Souls whilst in the U.S. Itís an absolute standout and one of the more instantly catchy songs as the simple chorus ďIíd kill for youĒ somehow has the capacity to get stuck in your head. Sixth track "Sexy" sees singer Dan croon over an acoustic guitar and drum machine. An odd combo indeed, but somehow this more adventurous attempt works. Long-time fans will be happier with songs like single "Fast Girl," "A Slow Dance" and "Mistakes and Ladders" that highlight the bandís more familiar, upbeat, conventional sound. Closer "She Will Come" is another song that must be given some sort of extra attention as well, with its unique chants and catchy drumming.
Overall, Are You Involved? is an exceptionally consistent and interesting listen. In short, itís straight ahead-rock with that bit extra. The songs may not be as instantly catchy as some of their previous work; however, the hooks are still there, just in a more subtle, rewarding form. It has the ability to gradually work its way into your mindset with a lyric or vocal delivery here and a guitar line there. Will this be the release that enters Gyroscope into the consciousness of the international and American independent (and namely punk) music scene? Probably not, but itís certainly a worthy addition to the lucky few.