Golden State - Division (State Champ Records) 
Golden State - Division

Release Date: 31st March 2014

I don't think it's any coincidence that I sat down to listen to this album for the first time straight after watching the Farrelly brothers film 'Stuck On You' for the first time considering this is an album called 'Division' and the cover art seemingly features conjoined eagles. Los Angeles quartet Golden State open this album with the understated tones of 'All Roads Lead Home' which builds slowly like the sun coming up on the night before bursting in to an array of lights and colour like Elbow in leather (but not leather elbow patches). Weirdly, the next track is 'Setting Sun' which continues the theme of soaring, anthemic guitars as sensitive, gentle vocals before the harmonious introduction to 'Sink Or Swim' takes things to a more place that puts me in mind of recent Stereophonics or the Killers output. 'Destroyer' has a little more personality about it, sounding highly inspired by Muse's 'Knights Of Cydonia' with the chugging guitars and rolling drums and this is where Golden State's strengths definitely lie rather than on the slightly ponderous 'The Outsiders' which takes too long to get going and then doesn't really achieve lift off when it does.

This feels like an album by a band who want to sound a certain way but have commercial success nagging at the back of their mind so the majority of songs, like 'Save Me' and 'Standing On The Edge Of It All', sound like they were written expressly for those dramatic moments in American dramas where the impossibly rich and good looking people get all upset because one of the other impossibly good looking and rich people doesn't want to jump in to bed with them. There is, at least, a sense of lightness to 'Splinters Out' that is appealing and 'World On Fire' has a triumphalism that you could expect of Kings Of Leon in all their pomp and glory although it does veer dangerously close to U2 at times. 'High Noon' picks up the pace a little with a semi-punk, indie guitar riff and some slow burning vocals that show signs of a smouldering appeal but the electronic psssshhhheeeeooooooo noises are a little bit much. There's no denying the drums that open 'Light Speed' are tempting but the tune that follows is insipid rock that you might expect to wake up to having fallen asleep during a poor sequel at the cinema with the credits nearly at an end. By the time we get to 'Rocket' there isn't any high expectation on this album so it's pleasantly surprising that Golden State at least have a stab at sleaze rock (they're from LA after all) and manage a passable Buckcherry tribute if nothing else. This is a frustrating album as these guys can play but they need stretching or at least given some space to stretch themselves away from the safe MOR/AOR territory.  

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