By title alone, Coastgoth presents a sort of contradiction. After all, the beach is sunny, warm, happy, full of smiling faces; goth is dark, intense, sad, perhaps vengeful. The pairing of two immediately calls to mind the visual of Jogger’s music video for “Nephicide” where two kids in face paint go to the beach to ruin people’s days.
Funeral Date is a post-punk/coldwave duo out of Ocean Springs, MS, which, to no one’s surprise, is located by THE OCEAN. They rely heavily on cloaked, reverby vocals, icy guitar, and punchy bass for a sound that is a bit somber. But add in moderate tempos and and glimmering synth and there’s a bit of hope thrown into the mix as well. Think a bit of Drab Majesty, Graveyard Club, and even Depeche Mode – albeit more raw and DIY.
The band’s first effort seems to have dropped without too much of a marketing cycle (apart from one single beforehand). Even so, there’s plenty of promise here – and areas it’d be interesting to see developed by a full band (instead of programmed drums).
The album kicks off with the instrumental “Intro”, a two-minute track that gives a taste of what the group is about. Personally, I feel like it’s a bit too long for what it is and it doesn’t necessarily set an accurate precedent for the songs that follow, but intros are intros.
The rest of the tracks shift between cold ballads and brighter bops. This isn’t “your summer soundtrack” by any means (and it curiously released September 1), but there are vestiges of happier days mixed in for good measure. It’s kind of like when you go to your friend’s birthday party but it’s also the worst day of your life.
On the brighter side of things, “Saturday Night” is the go-to track. It was released as a single, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s catchy, has a bit of a Bloc Party flavor to it, and contains some nice ornamental synth lines. Funeral Date don’t reinvent the wheel on this one, but they do capture snapshots of Tony Hawk game soundtracks and add their own unique gossamer twist.
“Underneath the Ground” sits on the other end, conveying a dark and mysterious mood with glassy synth. Its intro is mysterious and threatening, and when vocals kick in, it solidifies a sense of desperation. Funeral Date’s vocals sound a bit like AFI’s Davey Havok for easy reference, albeit with a fair bit of processing.
Other highlights include “24 Hr Bday Party”, “Always Falling”, and “Grave Matter”, which all show different sides of the group’s dynamic. All things said, the “coast” part of the title isn’t particular apparent soundwise – but it is significant such textures would come from the gulf coast rather than Scandinavia or the northern Midwest. Regardless, there are plenty of promising things happening on this release.
Unfortunately, the vocals do feel a bit out of place at time – maybe they’re too low in the mix, they’re too wet while the instrumentation is fairly dry, or they were recorded in some different manner. I know it’s characteristic to have vocals drenched when it comes to this type of sound, but I’d love to have the vocals brought out a bit. Even the ornamental synth parts feel more prominent at times.
There are also moments where things feel a bit too flat – and while DIY is part of the allure here, I do think adjusting some of the levels slightly could pay off.
But overall, for a first effort, it’s clear that Funeral Date have something good going on to get in the door at more gigs and festivals and get the word out to new listeners. This wasn’t a nine-month marketing cycle with thousands in advertising; it’s very much a salt-of-the-earth passion project with room to grow. There’s a clear solid foundation in the songwriting on this record. And in a scene dominated largely by rappers and cover bands, they’re a refreshing reminder that risks are worth taking. And most importantly, they’ve proven that wearing black at the beach is this season’s fashion.