Gone Not Lost
Don’t be fooled by the drugged-up, psychedelic cover art of The Midwest Beat’s latest effort, Gone Not Lost; it’s still the same mop-topped crew jamming the English beat and British Invasion into rocket boots for record geek consumption. Instead of frequently wandering off into masturbatory binges of reverb-soaked guitar fuzz indulgence (as the cover might suggest), the record has been sledgehammered into 15 concise chunks of concentrated pop that never creep past that dreaded three-minute mark, and they’re dominated by an even-handed back-and-forth between lead songwriters Matt Joyce and Kyle Denton.
The guitar-pop spirit of old Beat favorites like “J Man’s Blues” and “Girl Gone West” still haunts the high-powered upswing of Joyce’s “Sister Mary Katherine,” Denton’s infectious “Bethany,” and bassist Logan Kayne’s revved up, Dave Clark Five channeler “Spent Love.” But the dynamic Gone Not Lost takes a winning dive into the sweet alt-country balladry of the Denton-lead “Crawlin’ Back” (a duet with Sugar Stems’ Betsy Heibler) and the organic waltz of “Firefly” without losing much momentum.
Heibler isn’t the only pal the quartet enlisted this time around. The Motorz’ Kyle Motor and The Low Czars’ Bob Koch chip in backing vocals on “When She Came To Town” and “Sister Mary Katherine” respectively, and former-Jaill and The Goodnight Loving member Ryan Adams actually donated one his own tunes—tom-fueled rocker “All Night Long,” with a shared lead with big harmonies between Joyce and Denton.
The tunes come neatly gift-wrapped with big hooks, back vocals that actually serve a purpose, and all the little details like bridges and pre-choruses that have somehow slipped through the cracks of modern pop. While the experimentation on Gone Not Lost may be a bit lacking and the strength of the Beat’s sonic identity could get lost in the grand scheme of things, the album still finds the band doing what it does best: setting its crosshairs on the fine art of constructing a great pop-rock song and hitting the target.
The Midwest Beat celebrates the new release June 10 at Linneman’s.