Don’t let the band name fool you. You’ve never heard gospel music this brief. Or this secular. Okay, to be completely accurate, Gospel Music‘s How to Get to Heaven from Jacksonville, FL isn’t gospel at all. It touches on love, heartbreak, and social awkwardness. So, it’s post-punk, actually. And it’s not half bad. And it’s super-duper cute.
If this twee trope is starting to seem familiar, that’s because Gospel Music is Black Kids bassist Owen Holmes’ new project. Remember “I Don’t Wanna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You”? It’s like that, but it’s not. First, it’s more lo-fi, sounding free of the weighty slab of hype dropped on that other band, circa 2007. But The Cure worship is still there (And how could it not be?).
While owing a lot to The Cure’s sound, there’s more to Gospel Music than Robert Smith-ly sweet vocal and guitar melodies. There are some heavy keyboard sounds of the post-punk vein, as well as some of the same confessional mumble and self-loathing akin to Stephen Merritt and The Magnetic Fields.
The band’s lyrical subject matter is far different, though, from any of those reference points. For example, “This Town Doesn’t Have Enough Bars for Both of Us”, a sentiment common among those stuck in incestuous nightlife scenes in, say, north Florida. Plus, its simple synth line kills without using production usually built into its melodic DNA by the band’s forebears.
You’ve got to give it up to Holmes for not hogging the record’s vocals, too. Precious female vocals get their moments to shine as they did on the Duettes EP, which featured, among others, Camera Obscura’s Traceyanne Campbell on “Automobile”, a song that’s a little disappointing not to see on Heaven.
“Apartment” is a fine substitute, though. When vocalist Madeline Long sings, “In my apartment/The bar doesn’t close/In my apartment/we don’t need clothes,” it offers up a kind of solution to “This Town Doesn’t Have Enough Bars for Both of Us”. Just stay in, man. Make your own fun. That’s what Heaven does in spades.
Essential Tracks: “Apartment”, “This Town Doesn’t Have Enough Bars for Both of Us”