The modern musical world is a fast-moving place. A place of exploration, of innovation, of invention. It’s a place where genres are fused into new forms, new sonic territories sought, zeitgeists are surfed and the ever-changing fads and fashions adhered to. But sometimes it all gets a bit exhausting. Sometimes it seems to be trying too hard to find the new source of cool. Sometimes you just need some old-school rock & roll in your life. And when that happens then Gear is definitely a band you can trust to sort you out.
It comes as no surprise that Gear first saw the light of day back in the 90s, you can hear it in their music. A hint of Brit-pop energy, some low slung Datsuns-esque swagger, a whiff of Jet’s groove. The artwork and even the band’s name referencing those times. This is rock & roll pushed through an indie filter. And the “& roll” bit is an important distinction. Rock is more often than not a po-faced, overly-earnest, boorish drone…add the &roll and it becomes something else, something that swings, struts, swaggers and grinds, something sultry, and attitude infused, a low-slung, foot on the monitor, salvo of loose and louche sonic grooviness. And Crash and Burn is all of that and more.
And after 20 years away from the music scene, university, jobs, families, and all the other trappings of domesticity having taken precedence, as they must do for most of us, Gear is back to pick up where they left off. Only this time they have something else to add into the mix. Age. And that isn’t something which should be scoffed at, many bands do their best work when they return to the fray older and wiser. Crash and Burn is the sound of their younger impetuous selves being guided by their more worldly, wider heads.
As a song, it’s an easy win. It wanders sure-footed between indie cool and rock traditions, fat riffs, backbeats with the right amount of swing and shuffle, bass lines that neatly anchor the two together, a vocal delivery with just the right balance of accessibility and aloofness. It is hard to see anything that they have missed out and the fact that the band didn’t make their mark in the nation’s consciousness sometime around 1997 is music’s loss.
But better late than never and at least their reemergence now means that they have less competition for this sort of sound, most indie bands seeming either to be doing strange folk experiments or otherwise having gone full identikit, black leather jacket, alt-rock on us. Maybe their timing is actually perfect. I suspect Gear is as likely to appeal to just as many young indie kids as they are to aging Oasis fans. Only time will tell…but I bet you any money that I’m right. Trust me, I’m a journo!