Album Review: Gengahr – A Dream Outside

Album Review: Gengahr – A Dream Outside


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Gengahr’s debut album A Dream Outside. Photo from Gengahr.

Gengahr’s trip-pop sound contains some very good highs, but it’s their consistency that lets them down in their debut LP release A Dream Outside.

I first heard this band back in January when I found out they were supporting alt-J alongside Wolf Alice in their European Tour, which meant I got to see them open their O2 show. By that time, they had released two singles (Powder and Bathed In Light), and I was definitely a fan. Not only are they musically similar to alt-J with their contemporary style (which are very good marks in my book), but the constant falsetto vocals and dreamy instrumentation provided something very different to what I had heard before.

I listened to the album with anticipation, looking forward to hearing more of the catchy stuff that made me a fan of the band, but instead I realised that what was initially refreshing quickly turned into something fairly boring. They are consistent, and when the singles came around I definitely enjoyed myself, but it’s very hard to digest 40-odd minutes of it. A lot of the songs were quite same-y, with lead singer Felix Bushe only once slightly deviating from his high-pitched inflection, which eventually starts to grate on you. In fact, my favourite album track (non-single) was a funky, Saturday Night Fever-esque instrumental, which I can’t help but feel was implemented to give us a break from the unrelenting falsetto.

Some songs I just didn’t click with, such as opener Dizzy Ghosts and Fill My Gums With Blood, which seem ever too near a homage towards bands like MGMT, Foster The People and Empire Of The Sun (a sound I tend to avoid like the plague), but for the most part they are just able to steer well clear of that black hole. If you are fans of the above artists, I wouldn’t be surprised if you enjoyed the whole of Gengahr’s release, because you’re probably way more used to high-pitch droning than I am.

However, I was definitely hit with some memorable moments while trudging through the album. Songs Where I Lie, Powder and Trampoline contain some entertaining lines that will definitely be shouted back at them as part of a festival/gig singalong: “The monster I’ve seen grew teeth inside of me”. Instrumentally, the band are very tight, and towards the second half we start to hear some electronic reverb (or “electroverb”) that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Kid A/Amnesiac-era Radiohead album, which blends smoothly with their trippy trademark.

This album has certainly not put me off Gengahr. They’re a skilled band with some killer singles and they radiate confidence in their work. I just find it hard to put-up with their style in chunks as big as full-length LPs. Their USP may well be why they are gaining recognition, but it is also why I can’t listen to them for very long.

Gengahr’s A Dream Outside is released on 15 June 2015.

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