The City Gates seem to drift across the landscape like a post-punk spectre returned to haunt the modern listener, an echo of past times but also something perfectly present in the here-and-now. And whilst it is easy to draw lines between their icy and melancholic sound and the gothic heartland of the early eighties, as well as the reverb-drenched shoegaze sound which followed a decade later, this is no nostalgic peddling of past glories. It’s better than that. Much better.
If ever the word soundscaping were to be accurately applied to a band’s music, it is to bands like The City Gates and certainly to this album. Tracks such as Cape of Good Hope are wonderful textural weaves where guitars lay down a cavernous backdrop through which scintillating sonics are woven. Additional layers of guitars chime and shimmer, basses and beat pulse and drive and the vocals, embedded as they are lower down in the fabric of the music are as much an instrument in their own right as a direct means of communication.
Siegfried 69 runs on a wonderful motorik groove, the sort of song which would have ushered in spontaneous outbreaks of rope-dancing and the throwing of earnest shapes on mid-week alternative dancefloors across the land. There are some obvious referencing to goth central with the Bauhaus-esque Tending A Dead Women’s Garden but for the most part, The City Gates are their own people. Copenhagen is a sublime and shining indie gem, Slush is built on gloriously groovy industrial machinations and Foghorn’s Cry is a vision of what The New Romantic scene could have been if its pioneers had gone for substance rather than style, cult status rather than commercial success…and perhaps listened to a few more Cure albums.
Age of Resilience is a great album, one that reminds us that all scenes move on and as they do so they evolve. It is easy to use labels such as gothic and post-punk…I do it all the time…but the reality is that The City Gates are very much a band of today. Of course, it is easy to see where they come from regarding influences but where they are going to is much more interesting.