An album of shrewd pop songs built on rhythm.

Australian import’s Gold Field have been making the rounds for the better part of 2013, earning one rave review after another and the confusing label of ‘dance-rock,’ a hasty description of the quintet’s true sound. Black Sun, the band’s debut album offers a refreshing take on contemporary new wave’s often heavy reliance on synth opting instead for savvy pop that takes it’s cues from buoyant percussion and dance-friendly grooves.

Black Sun‘s pull is instantaneous as the sinister opening of “Meet My Friends” – a rare misstep – drives home Gold Fields’ focus on rhythmically driven pop songs. The strobing new wave of “Dark Again” quickly makes up for any second guessing as flex of tribal beats dance over rich synth and a juicy pop hook, while the bright solar flare of “Treehouse” offers a breath of shimmering pop.

Standout single “Happy Boy” finds Gold Fields at their finest as Mark Robert Fuller offers chilled, throaty vocals – recalling Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode circa “Enjoy The Silence” – over a looping drumline, bongo drums and sultry bassline groove. “Thunder” counteracts its gloomier predecessor with sunkissed keys and harmonized melodies for glittery pop perfect for twilight. Elsewhere the haunting “Ice” evokes chilly echoing synth, with a galloping back beat that’s never far behind.

Nowhere more prominently than on “The Woods” and “Moves” does Gold Fields’ enthusiasm for tribal drums and percussion-driven pop ring true. Though “Moves” may offer a dancefloor approved breakdown they remain smartly constructed tracks. Even if the temptation to verge into Panic at the Disco territory is apparent and narrowly avoided.

Gold Fields embrace the best of 80s new wave while avoiding the over saturation of synthesizers, a common trapping of many contemporary pop acts. Instead Black Sun is built upon shrewd pop songs with an emphasis on it’s rhythmic section adding new angles through tribal beats and an unabashed love of danceable grooves. Though the album’s noir undercurrent is apparent the boys manage to counter their darker moments with equally light ones. It’s a tricky balancing act that pays off in an array of well-crafted tracks for the most dynamic new wave we’ve heard in a long while.

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