Band of the Day

2011.10.27

Fools Gold

An exuberant mash of North African guitar music and 80s dance
No I won’t stop staring and I can’t stop watching, no I won't stop staring at the fire as it grows.
lyrics from The Dive

From Los Angeles, California, Fool's Gold is an afropop-influenced music collective headed by Luke Top (vocals, bass) and Lewis Pesacov (vocals, guitar). Top and Pesacov, who began collaborating after meeting each other at summer camp when they were ten, founded Fool's Gold in 2007. The group consists of a fluctuating line-up (between 8-12 members) featuring members of We Are Scientists and The Fall, among others. Fool's Gold has a sound that is primarily influenced by African pop music, '80s new wave, and American guitar pop. Their songs, which are sung in Hebrew and English, are upbeat, melodic, rhythmic and danceable. Fool's Gold, the group's eponymous LP, was released domestically in 2009 (internationally in 2010) on Los Angeles-based IAMSOUND Records. The album was followed by a series of tours that led to the group's 2011 full length IAMSOUND release entitled Leave No Trace.

With their bright mixture of rock and guitar-based Afro-pop, it's tough to place who Fool's Gold could be. You might guess they're New Yorkers like Vampire Weekend and the Dirty Projectors, two bands who've adapted African sounds to rock music. In fact, they're a Los Angeles collective with a variety of international backgrounds, though none from North Africa, where their sound originates! Led by Israeli-born Luke Top and Lewis Pesacov, the group also counts a rotating cast from Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and the U.S. among its members. On their latest album, Leave No Trace, Fool's Gold nails the twinkling optimism of North African guitar music with their quick bursts of clean lead guitar, while frontman Luke Temple's Morrissey-style vocal delivery adds a whole new compelling layer to their music. Their music is simultaneously sunny, lighthearted and deeply earnest, a powerful mixture that gets amplified by the hook-filled songwriting on Leave No Trace. Album opener “The Dive” kicks things off with a lively drum beat and quickly picked lead guitar that would make even famed African guitarist Ali Farka Toure proud. Top's forlorn, gently wavering vocals gives the song a whimsical vibe that blends beautifully with the upbeat instrumentation. “Wild Window” conjures images of summer and fluorescent clothing with its 80s influence and African rhythms, and also displays Middle Eastern pop's influence on Top's vocals. It's not overt, but you can hear the Middle Eastern-style meandering vocal melodies and rich embellishments. Listening to Fool's Gold, it's amazing how much joy and enthusiasm shines through the music. There's a sense of spontaneity, fun and sheer love for music, and the feeling is contagious.