The journey begins on a teasing note of hurry up and wait. The simple, ringing guitar strum that opens "Too Long," the first track on Goldcure's Portugese Prince, conveys the coiled tension of a racehorse stomping at the gate - or, literally, the thrilling countdown of a young band poised for launch. But then there's the entreaty to "Be patient, dear," hinting at what seems to be cautious hesitation. "I'm not who I said I am," the line continues, "You must know/I've no place to go but here." Don't believe it. Because with all due respect to Goldcure frontman Adam Buhrman and band co-founder Craig Haskell, who are nothing if not sincere when they candidly discuss their still ongoing search for a fully realized sound, the fact of the matter is that they've already arrived. From the soaring "Too Long" (which blasts off shortly after that teasing opening verse) through to the perfect landing of the Haskell-sung closer, "Beautiful Disaster," Portugese Prince is a debut that evokes the unmistakable promise of early U2 - if U2 had arrived onto the scene almost fully grown with the confident swagger and focus of War or even The Unforgettable Fire. That's a helluva claim for any new band to live up to, and one the members of Goldcure shyly deflect, but the record itself almost seems to demand such a bold spotlight. The songs and performance can take the heat. Much like the royal orphanof the album's title track, the members of Goldcure may still be reticent to fully acknowledge their grand destiny - but they're clearly off to very auspicious start. A lot of credit for the album's success is due to the guiding hand of Portugese Prince producer Stephen Doster, the journeyman songwriter and guitarist who picked up on Goldcure's potential the very first time he heard them. Call it deja-vu: two-and-a-half decades earlier, Doster had been recording his own debut with another distinguished guitar-hero producer, James Honeyman-Scott of the Pretenders. That album was never finished; Honeyman-Scott died shortly after they started working together. But there was something about Goldcure's sound - all big guitars and keening, harmony-laced melodies - that Doster found irresistible. "Working with them is like unfinished business with me," explains Doster, who in addition to producing Portugese Prince has also signed on as Goldcure's personal manager. "Although there are many influences, you can definitely hear Honeyman floating around in there." You can hear more than a little David Bowie in Goldcure's musical DNA, too, along with the aforementioned U2, the Smiths, David Byrne and Richard Ashcroft of the Verve (at least in terms of Buhrman's expressive vocals). But more so than any external influences (direct or indirect), Goldcure's sound stems from the chemistry of it's four members: Buhrman and Haskell on vocals and guitars, longtime friend Gavin Inverso on drums and relative newcomer Marcos Lujan on bass. "That's always been the vision of this band," Buhrman insists. "Whatever sound we come up with, it's going to be the combination of the right guys together. And we're going to keep it like that and build on that." In the big picture then, maybe that album-opening "be patient" line isn't about hesitation at all. It's a promise - bolder perhaps than this writer's comparison of the fledgling young outfit to one of the biggest bands in the world - of even better things to come. Or, as Goldcure assures us later on the record, "It's not over yet." -Richard Skanse.
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