Album review: "The Float"
By David Malitz
Friday, July 20, 2012
There are basically two reasons musicians return after long absences -- they want money or they miss music. In the case of Rebecca Gates, you can be assured that it’s the latter. After Gates’s first career as a reliable college-rock hitmaker while leading the Spinanes, “The Float” marks her first release in 11 years and finds her making some of the most luxurious, detail-oriented music of her career. It won’t make her rich, but it’s richly rewarding.
Gates’s music continues to be defined by a calm elegance, as the songs shift between lush, cinematic creations and sturdy, surging rock. “Harlesden to Vals” and “Lighter Than We Go” do this within the same song, and those transitions never feel jarring thanks to Gates’s expert pacing and her hushed singing. “The Float” is a welcome reprieve from overly stylized indie music that doesn’t hold up on repeated listens. The minor details are what make many of these songs memorable, from the call-and- response vocals on “&&&” to the ringing chimes in “Claudine Lounges Chiklet Chic.”
As understated as these songs are, there is something undeniably intense about them. Gates’s voice is accompanied by only a few acoustic guitar plucks through the beginning of “Rose” before a dramatic dash of violins adds an emotional swell. As with the rest of these finely crafted tunes, there are no shortcuts or cheap ploys, just a whole lot of care.