Saving Private Ryan star releases an intriguing album of warmly enveloping indie-pop.
Mike Diver 2011
Saving Private Ryan’s Adam Goldberg is no stranger to releasing music: the actor put out an album as LANDy back in 2009. That was a patchwork of disparate tracks completed across a six-year period, but definitely displayed promise. And that promise has become clearer on this debut as The Goldberg Sisters, where Adam is joined by – a pinch of salt might be required, here – a twin named Celeste for a rewarding indie-pop set that’s as warm and comforting as a hot water bottle at the end of a bed.
Celeste would appear to be producer Aaron Espinoza, who worked with Goldberg during the LANDy years, and whose affection for analogue equipment gives this album a real old-time feel, as if it’s a release from the mid-70s dusted off for fresh assessment. Even if it was, the resulting critique would surely be a positive one – this is a finely realised affair that owes much to retro elements recycled several times already, but never gets so bogged down in revivalism that the point of making a record today – to appeal to today’s listeners – is lost. Your Beady Eyes of this world could learn a lot from listening to songs like Don’t Grow and Shush/Ooh La La, which take enough cues from The Beatles and Kinks, Bowie and Bolan, for these influences to be heard; but they still manage to sound relevant in 2011.
Effects pedals and 70s synth pads play their parts – Goldberg, like Espinoza, has a fetish for antiquated gear, and there’s enough echo at certain moments of this set to fog out an AC/DC concert from the next town over. Mostly this is applied to Goldberg’s vocals, giving him a ghostly John Lennon-like presence (when he’s not channelling Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue), reedy tones snapping about acoustic strums and thwacks of stick on skin and palm on thigh. Also vital to the overall mix are brass and strings, which lend weight to otherwise pleasant but lightweight arrangements. A good case in point is Third Person, which shuffles with a laconic elegance but goes nowhere in particular, content to stay beautifully bored until trumpets erupt like an army of alarm clocks, waking the piece from a stupefied slumber. Come its squealing climax, it’s like a fuzzy flashback to Soft Bulletin-period Flaming Lips. Closer The Heart Grows Fonder manages to mix a mariachi mood with enveloping prog atmospherics.
Many an actor-turned-singer (and vice versa) has failed to match success in one field with their exploits in the next. But Goldberg should look forward to more positive feedback from critics, as we’re certainly looking forward to hearing more from him if it’s of a similar quality to what’s presented here.