Since the release of their fantastic, full-length sophomore effort, Leave Me Midnight a couple of years ago, the Chicago-based duo My Gold Mask have become JOVM mainstays as I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink about the duo and their work. Of course, in case you are new to the site — or just need your memory refreshed, some backstory is necessary: Comprised of Jack Armondo (guitar, vocals) and Gretta Rochelle (vocals, percussion), the duo spent time in Brooklyn and Baton Rouge, LA respectively, before relocating to Albuquerque, NM. Strangely enough, despite running in the same social circles, it wasn’t until Armondo and Rochelle finally relocated to Chicago, where they had a chance encounter at a rooftop party.
And as the story goes, the duo’s conversation quickly turned to music and their mutual love of Italian giallo films. In 2009, after completing a couple of short-lived rock projects involving other local musicians, Armando and Rochelle retreated and spent time experimenting with new sounds and broadening their artistic voices and the end result was their now-critically acclaimed duo My Gold Mask. Writing and recording their material in Chicago’s dimly-lit warehouse district has in some way influenced their overall sound and aesthetic. Assisted by long-time producer and collaborator Balthazar del Ley, their sound seemed to subtly nod towards Phil Spector’s famed “Wall Of Sound” production style of the 60s — that is layers of instrumentation with cascading and swirling reverb.
Since the release of Leave Me Midnight, My Gold Mask have released a series of singles that have revealed a band expanding upon and refining the sound that won the duo national attention, and in a similar fashion to Yeah Yeah Yeahs It’s Blitz! — in particular, “Zero” and “Heads Will Roll.” “Battles,” the first single off the duo’s paired undulating synths, industrial clang and clatter, brief but explosive blasts of guitar, four-on-the-floor drumming and anthemic hooks with Rochelle’s plaintive and ethereal vocals. And as you can imagine, the addition of electronics gave their soaring sound a futuristic and club-friendly sheen (which interestingly enough adds a some light to their dark and brooding material).
The album’s latest single “Connect” continues the album’s overarching change in sonic approach as synths and electronics play a big role; however, with “Connect” the approach is more of a gentle and subtle refinement. The soaring and anthemic hooks the duo are known for are still there but in this case, they’re paired with angular and buzzing power chords, electronic bleeps and bloops, swirling atmospheric synths and live drumming paired with electronic drums. Much like the album’s previous single, the song’s narrator bares their anxieties, obsessions and fears with an unadorned frankness to anthemic, shimmering dance rock.