[18 October 2010]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Goose play electronic stompers that are gregarious and muscular, as though their beats are slapping high fives while bounding across the dance floor. Blokish singer Mickael Karkousse sounds like the spawn of Simon LeBon and an exclamation point; even his most ambiguous lyrics (“We need one or more! / That’s what we want! / It’s for sure!”) barrel you over with dance commander urgency. Goose are on the hunt, they’re after you, and they probably smell like they sound: Jäger shots and sweat.
Goose’s second album, Synrise, balances its big beat raveups with statelier minimalist comedowns, in the vein of Moby’s instrumentals or Philip Glass’s Koyaanisqatsi soundtrack—four chords, bright arpeggios, and the impression of Some Greater Truth. These songs are pretty and addictive. The opening title track evokes the dawn of man with a refreshingly wordless vocal from Peaches and some dramatic timpani rolls from drummer Bert Liebeert. Sci-fi rondo “Bend” is seven minutes of intriguingly-chorded darkwave that evokes getting sucked into a video game. “Staring” evokes staring longingly out at the world from inside said video game. “In Cars” reimagines Kraftwerk’s autobahn as an escape from urban violence: “Drive away in cars! / Find your way to stars! / Far from where you are! / Casualties in bars!” It’s as though the band realize they’ve rocked the crowd a little too hard, and now they’re trying to set things right. The only loser in the bunch is the drumless “Hunt”, but it’s so short you can just pretend it’s an interlude that kicks off the second half.
Goose excel at throwing all sorts of little extras into their (usually) short tunes; unexpected surprises pop up on nearly every track. These goodies tend to be instrumental: “As Good As It Gets” ends with a micro-concerto for synth-glissando and cymbals, and lead single “Can’t Stop Me Now” loops a wheezing drone (or is it a droning wheeze?) that recalls either a motorcycle rev or a dying giraffe. Sometimes the goodies are vocal, as in the sinister Depeche Mode rip “Words”: “Desert streams, psycho trees / Are keeping you from sleeping!” (Well, NOW they are, thanks a lot.) All these elements rise from the propulsive milieu, do their jobs, and disappear for the rest of the album, leaving us happier and a little less bored.
That’s really the trick with dance albums, isn’t it? Keeping the living room listeners tuned in even when we’re not dancing? Not that you can’t dance to Synrise; I have and you should. But Goose’s songs also work as uniquely-structured music for parlor sitting, like New Order’s stuff (or like the Chemical Brothers, or like Cesium 137, or you can name your own obscure faves). Maybe we can attribute this to their rock background; like most of us, Goose started life as an AC/DC cover band. Whatever the cause of their concision, the impulse is the same. Goose want to entertain you for about 40 minutes with beats and catchiness and well-honed musical craft. I could sit and listen to their album all day long.