If you plan to take a 16-year cut from the issuing song, your new material should accept it. In 2005 Gospel came out of nowhere with their optimistic prog screamo breakthrough, The Moon Is Dead!, but then disappeared home into the diethyl ion. The folks who restore next November to The music “S. R. O.” are not quite the same lively, crass twentysomethings they were the next period, we listened to them, and they don’t make any effort to conceal it. Singer Adam Dooling begins the music with the inclined discoveries you might have and when you see a new wrinkle, experience a new allodynia, or question while your colors are outdoing your side strands: “He’s just an oldtimer residing in a kids body/Now is it a middle-aged man’s body/Or a slightly ancient man’s body? /He’s just an older gentleman sitting in an old man’s body.”
It’s not just Dooling’s lyrics that hint at the years gone by; His voice, once an open-wounded wail, now there’s a scar, full of a grit that usually precludes a band from being deemed “screamo -“. “Gospel came when the genre was in full swing, their debut building on the template of pioneers like Orchid and Saetia while taking the emotive sound to stranger places than commercially successful contemporaries like Thursday and the Used Edition. Their connection to progressive rock was more in spirit than in practice, they wrote some epic songs and were fond of heady compositions, But there was no mistaking The Moon Is a Dead World for Close to The Edge, even during the parts Dooling wasn’t shredding his vocal cords. But The Loser, on the other hand? Slap car roof… Here’s a whole lot of’ 70s laser show prog in this baby.
Jon Pastir, credited with keyboards and guitars on Gospel’s debut, when the band was formed, all but one of the songs was written. The song in question, “A Golden Dawn” just so happens to have the album’s wildest keyboard solo. In old live videos, Pastir hops on keys every now and then but mostly plays rhythm guitar on The Loser, I’m not sure he even touched a guitar. His playing takes centerstage on the album, throwing it back to Prog’s heyday with hi-sheen tones on! “Hyper-linked blood plasma” that recall Rush’s synthy mid-‘ 80s, a mellotron outsider “S. R. O.” reminiscent of early King Crimson, and on nearly every song, overdriven organ, aside from its association with AOR in the ’70s, also gives Gospel their first-ever connection to the genre of music with which they share their name. Although Dooling shreds he still has a rhythm guitarist backing him up, Pastir is The Loser’s leading light — Rick Wakeman clad in flannel instead of a cape.
Ragged, Middle-aged screamo and keyboard-led prog make for odd bedfellows, but somehow, Gospel pulls it off. The dare-I-say jaunty “Tango” sounds Like Drive Like Jehu covering Emerson Lake and Palmer’s jazzy “Bitches Crystal” but it doesn’t suck. Drummer Vinny Roseboom and bassist Sean Miller deserve credit for not letting this thing go off the rails, with Roseboom in particular managing to keep his dizzying, fill-heavy style intact without adding to the sometimes-confusing chaos of overlapping guitar and keyboard wig-outs.
If you can vibe with The Loser’s jarring marriage of genres, Here’s also a rewarding narrative woven through the lyrics. Dooling focuses on white dudes over a certain age. He seems to be talking about himself on the aforementioned list “S. R. O.” lyric, but later in the same song, He offers some larger context: “But your father’s still around/And his white version of events/It’s not how it shit goes flat.” We get more of that sentiment on “White space” this demographic’s fondness for ownership contrasts with their inability to admit their wrongs ( “For most of you possess/You won’t own this!”), as well as and “Metallic Olives” which lashes out at flat earthers and longs for praxis. Closer “Warm Bed” which is the closest the album gets to the prettier sounds of Gospel’s debut, ironically carries its biggest divorced dad energy. “Oh, let’s listen to the dude” Dooling sings, quote from the soundtrack of “Footloose”, “How he creates a vile guy.” Gospel’s unorthodox approach makes their return feel even more poignant: In the past, their sporadic reunions helped friends and family pay medical bills, and now, The Loser is something that challenges aging screamo fans, both musically and existentially.