The Gateway District - Old WIld Hearts (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Gateway District

Old WIld Hearts (2013)

It's Alive

The Gateway District surprised me with 2011's Perfect's Gonna Fail. I'd enjoyed the band's full-length debut Some Days You Get The Thunder, but it was a little rough around the edges and scattered at times. Perfect's Gonna Fail, on the other hand, retained the best parts of Some Days You Get The Thunder while tightening up their songwriting, providing twenty-six consistent minutes of some of the catchiest pop-punk I'd heard in years. The band's latest, Old Wild Hearts, is a similar transition: The songs are even more polished, the pace is a touch slower and the pop influences are even more prevalent than before.

For those unaware, the band feature members of the Soviettes, Dear Landlord, Banner Pilot and Rivethead, and those bands are a fairly good reference point for the Gateway District's pop-punk sound. The band's ability to write a hook is plenty evident on Old Wild Hearts, perhaps no more so than on "Tell You Why," with a sugary-sweet anthemic chorus that may be the catchiest thing the band have written (and proof that they were a natural fit on the upcoming Go-Go's tribute album). The vocals of the band's two singers, Maren and Carrie, have always been a highlight of the band's previous releases, and this one is no different. Each can hold her own individually, but it's when they come together that they really work their magic. Whether singing together on choruses, such as the catchy hooks to "Murakami Novels" and "Speed Past," or the overlapping harmonies on verses in "When I Fall" or "Break You Down," the vocalists complement each other extraordinarily well.

Truth be told, the biggest fault I have with Old Wild Hearts is that the disc doesn't have as many of the brilliantly loud and angry moments as previous releases. On past discs, the strengths of the band were truly showcased at the band's loudest moments, such as "Some Days You Get the Thunder" or "Blue Halls," and those moments just leapt from the albums with unbridled energy and emotion. Those moments are still here – most notably at the end of "The Cut" and the title track – but their relative rarity makes for fewer standout moments here than on Perfect's Gonna Fail. That being said, it's not a major gripe given how well-written and performed the eleven tracks on the disc are, but the somewhat more mid-tempo nature of the album is something that may catch fans off guard at first.

The Gateway District's Perfect's Gonna Fail was probably my most listened to album of 2011, and one I still find myself listening to today. Old Wild Hearts doesn't quite live up to its predecessors' brilliance, but it remains a terrific album in its own right, and will no doubt continue to find itself in frequent rotation on my MP3 player.