On June 15th, London-based Gengahr will release their debut album A Dream Outside. The group have raised some eyebrows in recent months with a series of reveals about their geographical origin. Claims of beginnings in North Dakota were falsified; the band is actually based in North London. Add to the mix a name lifted from the popular Nintendo video game series Pokemon, and it becomes clear that Gengahr approach their music with a sense of humour.
A Dream Outside opens with “Powder”, a single that has been floating around the internet since January. Upon its release, Stereogum described the song as walking the line “between Tame Impala’s sprawling soundscapes and Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s miniature suites”. Lead singer Felix Bushe certainly shares a similar vocal timbre with these groups, and his transparent falsetto sits nicely amongst the other instruments. By holding back on his delivery, Bushe allows Gengahr to power their way through hooks that are as immediate as any of UMO/Tame Impala’s recent singles. The chorus of “Powder” is built around a stadium sized riff, with all the start and stop points one would expect to acommpany such a song. It’s the biggest song on the album, and a perfect introduction to the band.
A Dream Outside’s other half is best represented by the second single, “She’s A Witch”. It’s a laid back folk song, mainly serving to show off guitarist John Victor’s chops. As Victor flaunts his fretwork, Bushe sings: “Maybe she’ll sink, maybe she’ll fly. I caught a witch that cries all the time”. The song is also a good indicator of how tight the band is as a whole, with the rhythm section holding their own as the song chugs along with a laid back drum beat. Other album highlights include “Heroine”, with its 90s alt-rock tinge and abrupt shifts between major and minor chords, and the quiet beginnings of “Embers” that culminates in a Feelies-esque freakout. The latter might be a little too close to “Crazy Rhythms” for comfort, but can be let to slide, as there are far more worse songs to borrow from.
Gengahr’s debut manages to impress right out of the gate, and while it may be a little top-heavy, it remains an enjoyable listen.