Northcote’s fourth full-length record Hope is Made of Steel is an album that manages to successfully combine feelings of fun, melancholy, and, well, hope. Lead singer and band mastermind Matt Goud opens the record with the line “Staring out the window, locked away for days, fighting a lonely war that no one sees” over a frenetic acoustic guitar riff on “This is Our Time.” Led by Goud’s powerful vocals, the band plays through a record of pop-punk-influenced folk rock. Think Mumford and Sons covering Yellowcard circa Ocean Avenue.
“Small Town Dreams” is the revenge of the 80s. It’s the type of big song that might be played during a high school prom movie from that era, and the huge chorus will be stuck in your head for days. “Leaving Wyoming” came out of left field. It’s a country ballad about leaving home that really hits home (sorry). Goud sings the title in a musical phrase that never really resolves, leading into a tense, almost prog string-led interlude.
I have to give extra points to producers Dave Genn and Gavin Brown (who respectively have records by Matthew Good Band and Metric in their portfolios) in helping to make these honest songs growl. Those aren’t the only big names on Hope is Made of Steel’s credits: there are also welcome guest spots from heavyweights Hannah Goergas, Chuck Ragan and Dave Haus.
Alas, as I giveth points, I must also taketh points away. The line “life is for the living but hearts are for breaking” from “You Could Never let me Down” is an example of several moments on this record that are just too cheesy to forgive. It’s an ok tune, but when I heard that I literally face palmed, and so will others. It’s ok guys, you can dock me points for writing a cheesy review.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Kate Erickson