Review: Fool’s Gold – Leave No Trace (2011)

Summer may be over but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy some mellow tunes. Leave No Trace, the most recent release from Los Angeles group, Fool’s Gold, is the perfect way to keep the summer going in September. The album opener, “The Dive”, actually seems to epitomize Fool’s Gold’s sound. It has an upbeat and driving pace but the guitars and vocals are so pretty that the overall atmosphere is quite soothing. This music is flexible, allowing you to dance if you want but leaving you free to relax and enjoy.

That pace drives on into the second song and builds through the first half of the album. Track five, “Balmy”, is when the drums finally lean back and relax. Percussionist Salvador Placencia’s African and Middle Eastern inspired rhythms deserve much credit for shaping the feel of this album. The deliberate and unique instrumentations carry a great deal of weight in setting the tone from song to song.

“Narrow Sun” exemplifies the quality that singer/bassist Luke Top brings in terms of melodies. It begins with him singing softly over a quiet organ, but even this song stays lively with overdriven keys and rumbling tenor saxes soon joining. The song builds neatly until the bridge, which falls somewhat apart with Top yelping “Illumination, no direction”. The almost abstractness of this yelling reminded me of Here We Go Magic, another band I was just introduced to this summer. If you are digging Fool’s Gold then Here We Go Magic are definitely worth checking out as well.

“Tel Aviv” offers some lines in Hebrew. Most American music can be a pretty xenophobic when it comes to singing in foreign languages so it’s nice to hear Top singing in Hebrew. Fans of their self-titled debut are likely to be disappointed that there isn’t more Hebrew on Leave No Trace. Fool’s Gold was almost exclusively sung in Hebrew. This album is certainly focused on singing in English but perhaps a future release will see the two languages in better balance.

Regardless of language, this album stands strong and I don’t see it as a fault that the music has departed so drastically from their debut. Leave No Trace is a tight and cohesive collection of songs whereas Fool’s Gold sounded much more like a band experimenting with a sound. Leave No Trace is likely to stick with you even after you’re done listening.

Fool’s Gold
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Rating: 6.8/10

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