[Album Review] Gay Nineties- Liberal Guilt
Reader Rating: (5 Votes)

by Mark Anthony Brennan


Release Date: January 27th, 2015
Label: Fontana North

The term ‘Gay Nineties’ does not, of course, reference the 1990s, but rather the 1890s as fondly remembered by folks in the early 20th century. And the Vancouver band in question is not referencing the 1990s either. No, their target is the 1970s, and they don’t just reference it, they dive right in and swim around in it. But theirs is a ’70s free from disco, free from punk and new wave. It’s the theme to That 70s Show. For want of a better term, let’s call it Midwestern ’70s rock.

Like a lot of 1970s albums, ‘Liberal Guilt’, has a brief intro and outro, the former being some lighter-than-air music and whispered vocals and the latter being an instrumental of atmospheric guitars. The album proper kicks off with the arena pop rocker “Hold Your Fire” with its catchy refrain. The track “Letterman” is a little different in that it sounds more like an ’90s alternative pop number, but it nevertheless continues the chorus-heavy pattern. Things starting getting really interesting on “In and Out of Style” as the boys slow things down to a mid-tempo and utilise O’Jays-style harmonies in a plunky piano piece. On “Turn Me On” the band goes all Big Star and shamelessly quote from “Let ‘Em In” by Wings. Then, after a shout out to yacht rock on the track “Good Times”, the album closes with its strongest tune “Tangled”, where we all hop on the Soul Train with twinkling electric piano, Stylistics harmonies and hushed vocals.

All in all, ‘Liberal Guilt’ comes off sounding like Cheap Trick without the punk edge. If this all sounds like too many comparisons to other artists then that’s because this truly is an ode to certain sound and a certain time in history as opposed to a purely 21st century work. You might question whether that makes The Gay Nineties relevant, but with music this enjoyable and well executed who the hell cares?