There have been a lot of positive things written and said about the emerging band from the UK, Gengahr. The praise for their debut single Powder was widespread across various publications and music personalities, and they demonstrated their live chops playing festivals across the world and opening for big names like Alt-J. A Dream Outside is a solid debut record that is bound to exceed expectations.
I don’t like to make comparisons when I write about music because it can so easily come across as a jab at the artist, but I just have to do it here. With respect, listening to this album was kind of like tumbling into Dumbledore’s pensieve and reliving my first listen of Tame Impala’s debut album. It’s not like Gengahr are ripping it off or anything, but they’re delivering a similar spacey, indie-rock vibe that’s both laid back and exciting to listen to.
Opening with sparse, softly sung verses contrasted against heavy guitar in the chorus, Dizzy Ghosts sets the precedent for more music that is thoughtfully constructed while sounding spontaneous. The seamless interplay between the vocal melody, pumping rhythm section and layered guitars on the second track She’s A Witch (which was also released as a single earlier in the year) confirms that Gengahr has made a very good first impression.
The guys from North London stick to their guns from beginning to end, featuring ethereal falsetto vocals, jangling, swirling and echoing guitars and a contagious energy between drums and bass, but each song maintains its own character. Highlights include the instrumental Dark Star in which barely audible vocals are swept under the other layers to interesting effect, and the album’s first single Powder which features hypnotic vocal melodies over warm guitars. Don’t get deceived by the sweet sounding singing though, Felix Bushe on vocals says what he feels: “Try be nice but It’s only out of spite/The smug in your voice makes me vomit” (from Bathed in Light). Overall, there is a sense of uniformity, but also enough variation keep us engaged.
A Dream Outside evokes a sense that the guys from Gengahr share a cohesive musical vision and totally immerse themselves in what they do. As a whole, it is a richly produced album on which sounds as though each track has been delicately and thoughtfully crafted. For me, Gengahr has hit the sweet spot with this debut full length effort.