When your band name is a term coined by feminist film critic Laura Mulvey and your album title is a play on words involving one of Shakespeare’s most respected works you’re certainly inviting a particular audience. The scuzzy three piece, Male Gaze, release their first proper LP in ‘King Leer’ alongside past releases 2014’s single ‘Cliffs of Madness/ Think Twice’ and 2015’s ‘Gale Maze’, a strong record if only seven tracks long. The album itself feels like a very well considered tribute to noise rock and new wave, the album artwork being indicative of My Bloody Valentine and particular tracks bleeding Ian Curtis vulnerability. Too often however do bands effect this revival style with no thought to hooks, thankfully Male Gaze have us covered with tracks such as ‘Bad Omens’ offering up catchy, jingling indie riffs whilst maintaining a recognisable wall -of -sound style.
It’s no surprise that Male Gaze have such an eclectic sound however when you consider their members, Matt Jones of Blasted Cannons, Adam Cimino of The Mall and Mark Kaiser of Mayyors it’s fair to say this record feels very rich, perhaps because of this. First track Got it Bad packs an immediate punch, kicking off with considerable force and acting as a manifesto for the entire LP you only need to be a few short seconds in before this thing is dragging you by the collar. The sound is characteristically thick of its type owing something perhaps to the Nirvana model of fewer members producing a greater noise. Despite its noise rock heritage however ‘King Leer’ offers tracks that are structurally very familiar, perhaps even pop-like with third track ‘Krav Maga’ echoing Weezer’s ‘Hashpipe’.
Male Gaze, for all their clever references do not disappoint when it comes to lyrical content with part way love ballad ‘Ranessa’ offering us a self aware take on brooding archetypes. ‘Ranessa’ is a little sunnier perhaps than other tracks on the album and provides familiar romantic musing in the chorus “who knows if I’m ready for a woman so fair” before subverting this concept with the line “It’s reductive I know” and the verbally acrobatic “to assume you’d yes when you just as well know”.
It’s certainly a tight album, one which plays smoothly from start to finish and leaves you wanting to repeat and repeat listening. ‘King Leer’ is cleverer than is necessary for it to be; allowing it to stand that inch taller in a crowd of its contemporaries, to say it is more intelligent than need be of course is less of a criticism, more high praise.
‘King Leer’ is out now on Castle Face Records
This Male Gaze article was written by Jacob Atkins, a GIGsoup contributor