When I was first introduced to Gauntlet Hair, late at night in a turntable.fm back in 2011 (as I was wont to be back then), I was eager to get my hands on more. Alas, when their self-titled debut streeted, I was rather disappointed that the best tracks on the album were very much the first two singles I had originally heard. The rest of the album was, in my opinion, rather forgettable. It seemed like a horrible betrayal of potential. Especially when Frank over at Listen Before You Buy shared with me some pre-Gauntlet Hair tracks that I absolutely adored, it seemed to me that perhaps they took a step in the wrong direction considering their early promise and the rather attention-keeping focus of their early slow burners. I was completely willing to write Gauntlet Hair off as one of those fizzled out buzz bands and turn my attention elsewhere.
When Dead Oceans posted the first single from their upcoming album Stills, I listened purely out of curiosity and was rather surprisingly glad that I did. "Human Nature" trades in the rather anthem-striving shouts and crashing percussion heaviness of "Top Bunk", "Keep Time", and "I Was Thinking" for a much cooler delivery. In "Human Nature" we're given dark, murky textures and grounded bass-y vocals. The percussive edge is dulled a bit in favor for dynamic development as the track rises and falls in attention-grabbing cacophony. It's incredibly clear in this instant that Gauntlet Hair has a learned a thing or two, gradually rising into clattering assortment of sounds rather than just starting there for the get go. This is a Gauntlet Hair I can get behind.
While it remains to be seen whether their sophomore record can capitalize on this dramatic change in form, I'm certainly looking forward to seeing where they go. Consider my interest in the Denver twosome restored and anticipation for the new album properly initiated.
Gauntlet Hair's second full length album Stills is out July 16th on Dead Oceans.