Although Gatsby’s American Dream broke up in 2006, it wasn’t until about six years later that it became clear the band was done. They’d released a few stray one-off tracks, such as “Modern Man,” and fell off the radar again. It seemed, disappointingly, that the talented musicians in the band were finished for good. Fast forward to earlier this year, and we hear whisperings of a band called Cannons. A name change later came The Money Pit, and months later we’ve got ‘The Money Pit’ – an album of the year contender if I’ve ever heard one.
First, let me say: I’ve been dying to hear Nic Newsham’s voice again, and it’s absolutely better here than it’s ever been. While he’s always been a captivating vocalist, on ‘The Money Pit’ he stretches his voice in directions he’d never hinted at before (see: “No Problemó” and the backing vocals in the last chorus of “Lawrence Kansas”), all the while making it sound so effortless. He even goes almost as far as sounding bored with how easy it is (see: the whole damn thing). Not to mention his ability to craft melodies – listening to album highlight “Blackout” is mind boggling; the song’s hook reads as so verbose, there’s no way it should be quite the earworm it is. Ex-Gatsbys guitarist Bobby Darling, Newsham’s partner in crime, provides the technical flair that made Gatsbys stand out from their pop-punk/alternative rock contemporaries. The best thing about Gatsbys was always that they managed to be a fun, catchy band who never sacrificed technicality or progression in order to attain that accessibility. The Money Pit is no different, and Darling is a big part of it. Elements of songs feel like they could be right at home on Gatsbys’ self titled record, but it still feels like a logical next step.
“Lawrence, Kansas” is a good example, with an intro and bridge reminiscent of that record, but a garage rock styled chorus that would’ve never felt quite right on there. The short “The Destroyer” is another one, beginning in a way similar to “You All Everybody” or “Looks Like the Real Thing,” before the titanic chorus takes the song in a totally unexpected direction. The common thread here is “chorus” – The Money Pit sticks to conventional song structures much more than their previous band ever did, which every song on their self titled album containing one (and an exceptionally infectious one, at that). The Money Pit also gives Newsham an outlet to be a bit more lighthearted when he chooses, describing “pee[ing] on the side of the building where we used to work” and how it “felt like making a smiley face in the snow on a mountain,” before making the phrase “fuck that shit” a (killer) hook. Elsewhere he rhymes “Pat Sajak” with “this shit is wack.” The album’s filled with little moments like that to show off the band’s sense of humor, amongst other tales of parties and drinking a little too much. Still, things get a bit more serious on other tracks, with Newsham getting political on the aptly titled “Control Everything” and post-punk influenced closer “Devastator.” Perhaps part of the reason for this is that the band is rounded out by Gavin Phillips and Andy Horst of This Providence and Garrett Lunceford of Acceptance, both decidedly more upbeat bands than Newsham and Darling’s first venture.
What results from this mix of veterans is an album that could clearly have only be made by just that – veterans. A nearly even blend of all their previous sounds, leaning slightly in Gatsbys’ favor, with occasional indie flavors tossed in makes for a masterful album for fans of any sort of rock music. ‘The Money Pit’ almost eclipses anything else these guys have made, and more than likely eclipses anything else released this year. 5/5