Release Date: August 12, 2022
Genre: Pop, Pop Rock
Label: SharpTone Records
Heart Of Gold mastermind Michael McGough has found the time of being in a crazy successful touring band to write, record, and release his debut solo record, Beautiful Dangerous, under the moniker of Heart Of Gold. McGough is the clean vocalist and bassist of the post-hardcore band Being as an Ocean. The Heart Of Gold debut album is a drastic departure numerous amounts of fans of Being as an Ocean may not be accustomed to. Stepping away from the heavy sounds of post-hardcore and melodic hardcore, Michael McGough has recorded a lengthy fourteen-track pop-rock album with the assistance of his friend Phil McGornell (All Time Low, Hot Milk, Deaf Havana). McGornell co-wrote and produced the act's first record, half recorded in a small studio in Los Angeles and half recorded at McGornell's Steel City Studios in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. With Beautiful Dangerous, McGough feels a sense of triumph as he finally gets to share his personal story in the entirety of the music. In Being as an Ocean, it's been a combination of getting to sing his songs and lyrics, while the other times he's unfortunately not, he's singing songs from someone else's perspective. Beautiful Dangerous serves up stories from McGough's personal experiences he's lived through firsthand. From recollections from his childhood growing up in a small English village to pulling ideas and inspiration from a stack of notebooks, he's written stories and song ideas in throughout the last decade.
Beautiful Dangerous begins with "To The Blue." The track commences with a spacey, atmospheric range of instruments and sounds. As the song builds, "To The Blue" becomes a wonderful synth-laden, jazzy pop number that sets the rest of the project up perfectly. "To The Blue" features the first use of saxophone. Something that's placed strategically throughout the album. The saxophone on Beautiful Dangerous was a collaboration with Black Peaks frontman Will Gardner, all done over Zoom. "Headache" follows and sonically is quite similar to its predecessor. It delves a lot more into rock musically. It's chock full of more of that infectious saxophone that's the earworm of the entirety of Beautiful Dangerous.
The guitar-driven track, "Patient," creeps up and blows you away with its insatiable guitar solo, backed up by the glimmery wall of synths. The single, "Bright Lights," is next and is a doozy of a track. The track has a lot to offer up sonically. It's one of the most well-rounded tracks so far on the record. The use of vocal effects pushes his voice to new heights, the timey guitars, punchy drums, and dreamy synths and keyboards set up this otherworldly tune. It's something similar to The 1975 -an admirable blend of the self-titled and I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It- while ultimately still being incredibly fresh to McGough and Heart Of Gold. Lyrically, the song tackles a conversation McGough has with himself about holding on to the reminder of what's to come. Whether it's leaving a relationship or losing someone, yet still allowing himself time to grieve while simultaneously focusing on moving forward with his life. Continuing with a heavy influence from The 1975, "Leave Just Yet," draws inspiration from the British band and just overall is an utterly infectious number. The saxophone solo is just the cherry on top. "September Sunburn" is a slower, synth bass-heavy track, reminiscent of a pop-rock of the '80s, and again, those blissful saxophones pull through to heighten the songs and the album. I constantly try to hear this album without certain elements, such as the saxophones, and I can't imagine it without them. "Backseat Daydream" picks up with another fun, higher tempo tune. The bridge is atmospheric and embodies a summery feel before the glam of the electric guitar bursts out and takes over the track. As Beautiful Dangerous arrives nearer to its end, the synth-laced pop tune, "Bad Habit," takes you on a drive -as the lyrics also say. Lyrically, McGough details a conversation with the person you love the most and telling them that no matter how beautiful love is or how dangerous it can get, you're all in. Loving them has become a habit you never want to break. Sonically, it's in the same vein as most of the previous tracks, but the back and forth between the vocals and backing vocals -as well as all the use of vocal effects- are quite fun to hear. It's got this incredible vibe to it that you just know you want to experience it in a live concert environment. "Co-Dependant" oozes the pop ballad of the '80s. It's an emotional number, both musically and lyrically. They match each other well. McGough spills his guts out on the track, and musically you feel the lyrics even more. Then say if the song was a fast, poppy, synthy track. The saxophone solos on "Co-Dependant" feel a lot more needed -if that makes sense- on the track than on the rest of the songs they appear on. Beautiful Dangerous closes out with "Time Spent Driving." Another slower song that I can only assume is about McGough's time spent driving. Something he does a lot while going out to get groceries or get coffee or going somewhere and doing something. He's just alone with no music, just his thoughts. During this time, he spends a lot of his time reflecting and writing ideas in his head for his music -an excellent analogy for a fundamental part of the creation of this record.
Beautiful Dangerous is a contagious debut album that's well-written all across the board. While Beautiful Dangerous is not too similar to Being as an Ocean, the slower, softer side of his musical creativity accompanies his powerful vocals. McGough writes expressive, emotive, and relatable lyrics that are backed by the timely, throwback pop-rock sounds of the past. The music is clearly influenced by bands and artists of the '70s and '80s, maybe even The 1975, but the songs aren't overpacked with its layered vocals, synths, guitars, saxophones, and more. They're an assortment of powerful, ballady, and emotional tunes that overall juxtapose McGough's meaningful lyrics that depict stories and triumphs of his childhood to his adult years.
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