If based on their name you suspect that Gringo Star are a bit cheeky, you’re probably right. There’s a definite playfulness to the band’s brand of pop, as their latest singl e “Undone” makes plenty evident. The track, whose most distinctive features include plinked piano notes and a whistling melody, sounds like the kind of tune that would play well over a Wes Anderson film’s closing montage. As such, it’s utterly appropriate for the coming summer months; after one or two spins, you’ll be whistling along to “Undone” as you walk out into the sunny season.
Singer and guitarist Pete Furgiuele tells PopMatters a great deal about the song and its influences: “We never really set out to make songs sound a particular way or fit into a particular genre. It’s more of a process of filtering out the things we don’t like. We’ve always loved to mix things up and try different instruments and sounds while still keeping true to the Gringo Star sound. The way we see it, there are so many cool sounds and different approaches in music that it’s cutting yourself short to write the same song and go for the same sound over and over. We like to keep things evolving. I know this is an approach we’ll continue to have as long as we’re a band.
“With ‘Undone,’ we really wanted to try out some new sounds and arrangements. Once we’d written the core melodies, we felt there was a lot of room for experimentation on this one. We hadn’t really used strings on songs much, and we wanted to try to apply them in a simple way like you would hear on old ‘50s records—we wanted the song to have this dreamy vibe so we decided on the whistle. I guess ‘(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay’ by Otis Redding would be one influence.
“We tend to listen more to ‘50s music than anything else—Ritchie Valens, Dion, The Falcons, Arthur Alexander, all late-‘50s Phil Spector productions with Gene Pitney and Billy Storm, to name a few. We’ve always been attracted to the ‘gold rush’—as we like to call it—era of writing rock ‘n’ roll and doo-wop songs. I think people were really touching on some of the greatest melodies and sound combinations in those days. Things were so simple but had so much feel to them. We are purists when it comes to making music and tend to stay away from pre-fab beats or sounds we didn’t create ourselves. Not that we have anything against that way of making music, but we like the uniqueness that comes when people play an instrument rather than push a button on a MacBook.
“Lyrically, I would say ‘Undone’ is really just about constant change. People try to control and hold on to certain things in their life, but in the end everything continues to change. It’s about letting go and letting things run their course.”
Gringo Star are working on their as-yet-untitled fourth LP now; it has yet to receive a release date. “Undone” is the record’s first single.