Sometimes the moment is all that matters. Nothing before, nothing beyond it. When Kacey Underwood and Alice Costelloe aka BIG DEAL released their precious debut album Lights Out back in 2011 it was a celebration of the moment. A record about the fragile but always cool tension between two lovers it seemed. Although the Californian Underwood and London girl Costelloe are not a couple they played with the ‘One girl, one boy, two guitars’-image in a quite interesting way. Their voices and guitars were everything Lights Out was about. The songs weren’t complex, they were about each other and simple longings. Like two teenage lovers spending a dazey summer day together. Walking through the fields, kissing at sunset and probably doing more at night. At the park, the back of a car or maybe even in the dorm. Who cares what happened after that special day? There wasn’t any room for deeper thoughts and complexity, Lights Out was perfect in its coherent innocence. But what happens the morning after?
June Gloom, the duo’s now released sophomore album, might give an answer to that question. A record that feels like a logical continuation of the debut. And as the opener Golden Light slowly unfolds it feels like coming home and revisiting the couple from 2011 in the aftermath of their romantic day. But something has changed. Drums, bass – a whole rhythm section was added to the sound of BIG DEAL. This aspect is the main difference to Lights Out. “We felt like we really didn’t want to make the first record again,” told the duo NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION in a recent interview. “We felt like we didn’t want to have any limitations.” At first it sounds a bit strange as big bangers like Swapping Spit or Teradactol take away the intimacy and replace it with a certain heaviness. But if you think about it for a second it makes total sense. The unique atmosphere of the debut is not repeatable, BIG DEAL basically just avoid copying themselves with June Gloom.
But due to Cosetlloe’s and Underwood’s very own songwriting and vocals this intimacy between the two protagonists stays alive even the music is not that reduced anymore. So, there is plenty of room for discovering more musical territories. The record’s most recent single Dream Machines unfolds itself as joyful shoegaze rock, Pillow is a dark and sticky piece of lo-fi rock, as well as PG. Is there an electrical storm coming? BIG DEAL revisit early 90s alternative music, giving indie rock the fresh and pure lo-fi atmosphere back that got lost in the haze of its commercialization in the past years. This helps grounding the songs, giving them something real and honest. More melow moments like Call And I’ll Come or Catch Up bring the romance back. And, of course, there is still room for intimate acoustic moments in form of the tracks Pristine and Little Dipper who revisit the atmosphere of the debut. These are minutes of true bliss.
In the end, the next day just feels like the day before, only a bit different. Real life is knocking at the door of the lovers, reminding them that it’s not as easy as it seems out there. But they are laughing and loving in its face – only a bit louder this time. And sometimes it needs an epic wall of guitars to underline your argument as in the epic final track Close Your Eyes. Starting with the usual reduced tenderness the final part of it is nothing else than a big alternative rock monster. There it goes – thunder and lightning, the summer day is cooling itself down, discharging the tension. The future is still unwritten and it always will. BIG DEAL know how to take care of this. June Gloom is a fascinating little journey that invites you to lose yourself within its emotions. We couldn’t be more thankful for moments like these.