Social Crutch is the debut full-length album of Los Angeles-based post-punk-tinged slow-core trio Gold Cage. Comprised of singer/bassist Mony Katz, singer/guitarist Cole Devine, and drummer Sage Ross, the band combines dreamy guitar loops, delicate, dueling vocals, and slow, driving tempos to create spacious arrangements that shimmer with atmosphere.
Warmed with tape saturation, Social Crutch is an exercise in measured minimalism, with every tone carefully sculpted to fill the vast space of each track. Shoegaze, reverb-drenched guitars evoke Galaxie 500, Yo La Tengo, Deerhunter and even Rowland S. Howard. Yet Social Crutch remains very much in the present, thanks in part to the band’s ability to marry a range of influences into thoughtfully structured songs. Throughout the album, Katz’s and Devine’s equally laconic, whispery vocals elevate each song as they drift in and out of each other, sometimes softly colliding in gorgeous harmony.
Album opener “Repeater Kember” captures the band’s ethos with a decaying guitar loop that sustains and repeats for nearly all of the song, save for a heavy climax. The crest fades shortly after it begins, highlighting the band’s penchant for subtlety and restraint, even during the album’s crescendos. While Social Crutch is full of satisfying slow burns, upbeat moments such as “Halcion” and “Shadows” showcase Ross’ drumming, which provides a sturdy backbone with enough allowance for the catchy guitar ‘hooks and vocal melodies’ magnetism to shine.