After a split with Mute, Big Deal are back with their third album, Say Yes, on Fatcat Records. The path to Say Yes has been a difficult one, with band members leaving, relationships ending, and the theft of the band’s laptop, which had Big Deal’s demos and ideas for their new album on it. “It was fight or flight, and we decided to fight,” the band says. So they said yes.
There’s a nostalgia for the 1990s running through Say Yes, with nods to shoegaze and grunge peppering many of the tracks. The opener, “Hold Your Fire,” features a muscular guitar melody that sounds a bit like “Come As You Are.” Front woman Alice Costelloe’s voice sounds more than a little like Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O, and here she soars and wails but also blends quite nicely with frontman Kacey Underwood. On the driving, barreling “Avalanche,” Costelloe sounds uncannily like Karen O. The track is thrilling, all bold and chunky fury with more than a little grunginess.
“V.I.T.R.I.O.L.” is propulsive and poppy, if pop were filtered through dirty electro dishwater. An ear wormy guitar riff powers the track. It’s catchy and feels like it’s just teetering on the edge of breaking apart into a million shiny bits the whole time.
The title track begins a shoegazey thread that weaves through the album. There’s a nice, bold drum sound, and Costelloe and Underwood’s vocals meld and sway together finely. It’s full-on ’90s feeling with an underlying fuzziness. “Veronica,” too, looks to her shoes. With dreamy guitar, duo vocals, and a middle of the road tempo, it builds into a rave-up with great intensity just as the listener’s attention wanes and turns to what one might like to have for dinner. That’s good.
There are a few pacing issues on Say Yes. The last third of the album becomes more dream-like and languid, grouping together the pretty “Lux” with the somnambulant “Saccharine” and “Still My Dream,” languorous and swaying. It closes with “Idyllwild,” which lingers a bit longer than it needs but does end in a pretty fadeout to strings. It’s a conundrum. Do you end a promising album, one that starts in a really exciting way, on a high or low note? More excitement or songs to drift off to?
Still. Say Yes is often quite enjoyable. And not every track has to make one get giddy chills (like the kind “Avalanche” gives). Sometimes, you just need music that you can close your eyes and drift to. Big Deal has you covered, either way.
Say Yes was released on June 17 from Fat Cat Records.