The seeds planted by the early No Age singles and the less inspired Animal Collective material have officially taken root, and the results are just about the most uninspired music Iíve heard all year. If Gauntlet Hair were a Weird Al-style parody of the most abrasive indie rock subtrends of the past couple of years (soaring high-pitched vocals, ham-fisted attempts at electronic parts, sub-subpar "tropical" influences, chillwave), it would be a pretty masterful cultural prank. Instead, what weíre left with is an album that sounds like it came out of a weekend spent asking a room full of marketing executives what theyíd most like to hear in a rock record.
There will always be pretty large niche for bands this shamelessly derivative of the five or six most popular bands of the moment, so Gauntlet Hair canít be blamed for a certain degree of giving the public what they want. Thereís just something so lazy and cynical about the way that theyíre doing it, walking across the current musical landscape avoiding anything but the most well-worn path imaginable. Itís difficult to enjoy Gauntlet Hair on the level one might enjoy a genre-exercise punk band, because formal novelty is part of what makes Gauntlet Hairís genre worthwhile. Thereís none of the self-baring experimentalism that made Gauntlet Hairís predecessors so striking, just a whole lot of reverbíd falsetto over cymbal wash. Thereís no actual experimentation to be found in Gauntlet Hair, just a couple of guys performing soulless exercises in what theyíve supposed "experimental pop music" sounds like in 2011.
Brushing aside the fact that Gauntlet Hairís major influences have been known to cram more new ideas into one song than exist on this entire LP, there is literally nothing on Gauntlet Hair that hasnít been done better by more respectable second-order bands like Tonstartssbandht or Ganglians. Where do we go from here? Thereís a decent metaphor to be made about Gauntlet Hair and the quality lost when you copy a copy of something, but thatís an observation thatís been made a thousand times before and wasnít particularly incisive to begin with. Which is, in turn, an even better metaphor for Gauntlet Hair.