Gates – The Sun Will Rise and Lead Me Home EP
Record Label: None
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Born out of the ashes of the defunct ambient pop group Lydia and emo collective Bears & Bright Lights, Gates are a New Jersey-based post-rock quintet that draws comparisons to post-rock giants Explosions in the Sky as well as alternative-emo acts like Moving Mountains and The Appleseed Cast. Their debut EP The Sun Will Rise and Lead Me Home is a successful exploration of typical post-emo terrain that boasts great potential but occasionally sounds repetitive and uninspired.
Gates wastes little time in distilling their sound with “A Vague Ambition,” a track inundated with the melodic guitar plucking and sincere vocals characteristic of a band attempting to meld the expansive features of post-rock with the poignant pang of emo. The grandiose work of former Lydia guitarist Ethan Koozer sets a dramatic tone to the song as frontman Kevin Dye soberly belts “Between the margins there’s a marginal desire to be something/But we let the words written within them hold us back,” a pragmatic realization that the goals and aspirations of life can be muddled by convention and the status quo. Dye touches upon similar terrain and longs for a fresh start in “Walls,” optimistically singing “Tear down the walls that confine us all and we can start again/Tear down the walls, it’s so beautiful to be where we began” behind a flurry of high-pitched guitars lifted straight from the post-rock 101 handbook.
Dye’s vocal delivery, despite sounding dissonant at times, complements the mood of the songs fairly well and is especially emotive on “Burn Us Alive,” one of the stronger tracks on the EP. Dye nostalgically croons “I should have held my breath and saved a thread of mountain air/I should have known for so long that this day would come,” a feeling familiar to those on the wrong end of a breakup or coping with the death of a loved one. “In the Morning” follows a similar thread and sounds redundant before a magnificent climax erupts as Dye plays the part of a heartbroken lover with “I’m still the sail you tore apart/Floating in the wake, an abandoned ark/The sun will rise and lead me home/Where I’m safe and sound, forever alone.”
“At the End of All Things,” a ninety-second instrumental, and “Sleepwalker,” a six-minute effort that is barely distinguishable from some of the EP’s earlier tracks, close out the listening experience by typifying the positive and negative aspects of The Sun Will Rise and Lead Me Home. On one hand, Gates is very effective at crafting the stirring epics distinctive of the genre, however the band needs to diversify their approach if they wish to distinguish themselves from the myriad unimaginative imitators that persist in the post-rock scene. As it stands, The Sun Will Rise and Lead Me Home is an extremely promising debut release that should serve as a stepping-stone for Gates in their progression as musicians.