I just can't figure this record out. In contrast to their sweaty, heartbreakingly human, oft triumphant live shows - which apparently leave few doubters, apparently soul-less - I'm having trouble with "Two Gallants." Sometimes I love it. Sometimes it's infuriating. Sometimes I keep rewinding a certain part. Sometimes I just want he record to be over so I can put on some black metal. We'll start with the bad first. I just can't get over the fucking feeling that they're holding something back. Maybe the studio doesn't suit them like the stage, but I find myself aching for this feeling of
connection that just feels once removed as I play through the songs on "Two Gallants" yet again. Also, I mentioned this in a prior review, but oft the duo hew just a little too close to (a better) Soul Asylum and a (spooked, minimalist) Nirvana - and I just don't want to hear stuff like that again. Now what's this about the good? Yeah, you heard right. I love the way Two Gallants do love songs. It's more courtly, more Southern Gentlemen or beat-down troubadour who still takes off his hat when a lady walks by and I appreciate that. So at odds with all the self-righteoius whining you too often get from young male singers of a certain age.
The songs are sad, waaaaayyyyy sad. Don't misunderstand, but the language, the tone, the tongues. They're of a different time. Ditto with the execution and very crafting of the songs, they're more heartfelt, unselfconscious, but very much rooted in fading storyteller and worksong traditions (without the muso crap - punk did happen - did it ever - in the Two Gallants' sideways realm, but so did, say, Howlin' Wolf). I like, no, I love the last song - I love how they do a false doo-wop style/countryfied coda of "my baby's gone's" and then freak me the fuck out with a frenzied thrashing of that selfsame coda that's like lightning bolts in my ears and fingertips. I love the fucking drummer. I love the way the young singer sings so deftly about growing old far too quickly and I love how I believe it. How I do go on. Tell me now, what do you think of the Two Gallants?
- Matthew Moyer