Australian five-piece, Gold Fields, first released their eponymous EP over a year ago and since then the synthpop outfit has risen considerably, playing a lengthy string of dates all across the United States and playing with the likes of St. Lucia, Diamond Rings and Walk The Moon. And judging from Gold Fields’ tour partners you can pretty much get a good idea of what their music sounds like: catchy electropop with a slightly darker edge. With their debut album, Black Sun, the group give us a stellar introduction to their take on dance numbers that meld disco stylings of the past with the 21st century sheen of modern-day pop sensibilities.
In effect, Black Sun is a melting pot of pop, slight nods to new wave play with bombastic rave breakdowns, and straight-up pop melodies dance with the suave groove of yesteryear. It begins with the arresting high-octane of “Meet My Friends” and from then on it’s a smooth journey through an electric world of glistening synths and enormous choruses. In an age saturated with pop extravagance, Gold Fields don’t break the mold or reinvent the wheel but they offer a refreshing with moody yet playful undertones and an aura of mystery; like a less fiery Niki & The Dove. At times dark and brooding, at others jubilant and triumphant: Black Sun’s atmospherics and the band’s control over it are one of the album’s strongest assets. And it’s this mastery over the tone and colour of their music that brings all of Black Sun’s individual tracks together in a celebration of terrific fluidity. Whether it’s the shrouded heaviness of album standout “Ice” or the finger-snapping urgency of “Treehouse”, the ease at which Gold Fields seemingly bridge the gap display a deeper self-awareness and understanding of the band’s own music. In its diversity and varying styles and pace, Black Sun remains consistent in its focus and delivery.
The production all throughout is particularly noteworthy, it feels expensive but doesn’t bowl you over with maximalist peacocking confectionery. The synths definitely are of a superior make and quality, whether or not it’s due to some magical Australian mojo, I can’t say. An example would be the shimmering “Happy Boy” with its delicate intro of twinkling keys and a barely audible rustling that sounds oddly like chain-mail. The track blossoms and builds with excellent restraint and its comedown is no less potent as the layers are stripped back to reveal sweeping strings – clichéd but effective nonetheless.
From the tribal inflections and other nuances spread across the 11-track album, it is evident Gold Fields’ palette of inspirations is colourfully varied and expansive. Black Sun dips into current sensations utilising gritty dub and euphoric EDM touches that wouldn’t be out of place on a Zedd or Netsky banger putting them to good use as a frenzied storm of electrifying hysteria on “Moves”. All the while the throwbacks to the 70′s and 80′s are clear and present as on “Closest I Could Get” with its opening house key line and from there morphing into the album’s most danceable and arguably the most enjoyable track. Retrospective “Thunder” hearkens back to the same era with its grooving rhythm and on recent single “Dark Again” the band commendably fuse elements of the past and present together into an infectious foot-tapping tune. Indeed Gold Fields are undeniably stimulated when it comes to their influences, but when it comes to whether or not Black Sun is as inspiring as it is inspired the answer is less positive.
By no means is it an unenthusiastic or weak album with some substance to back up the volume but Gold Fields are going to have to up the ante if they are to truly set themselves apart from all the homogeneous faces and sounds of bands that cycle the radio waves until their time as flavour of the month is up. They have the skill-set and with Black Sun a great testament to it but it’s what they do with that that will see if they’re more than just another MTV buzzband. All things considered, the future may be far but until Gold Fields set their eyes on it, Black Sun is a wonderfully pleasing work that will definitely be enjoyed by many.