The common criticism of indie rock bands today is that they are perpetually stuck rehashing ideas from rock’s golden age. Listening to A Dream Outside, the debut album from north London band, Gengahr, such a criticism might seem fair to some. But to dismiss this band simply because of their “borrowed sounds” would be to miss out on an artful, effectual debut.
Live, this grunge rock quartet exude wild energy of the Nirvana variety, but with songs and an attitude that are all-together more peaceful. Though the band has confessed to being obsessed with the 90s, more than grunge, Gengahr’s sound is a blend of surf, psych and shoegaze, which has made their album a more delicate beast than their feral-sounding name might lead you to presume.
There’s a breezy, catchy chill to many of the songs, such as the rhythmic roll of ‘Powder’ and aquatic single, ‘Heroine’. While it brings to mind more than a few bands – Portugal. The Man in the filtered, half-chewed vocals, the seaside aesthetic of Blur, the dreamy pop of My Bloody Valentine, and the voice of frontman, Felix Bushe, baring an uncanny resemblance to Kevin Parker’s, of Tame Impala (‘Bathed in Light’) – it feels more like a well-honed homage rather than cut-and-paste cribbing.
Originality is relative, anyway. What’s best about A Dream Outside is the picturesque beach scene it captures. Sand, sediment and brightly coloured pebbles (possibly like the ones found on its cover art) tumble about its kinetic instrumentals. And occasional flourishes of experimentation – a twangy guitar chord on ‘Fill My Gums with Blood’, for instance – keeps it organic. Bubbly and stirring, especially in the flow from ‘Where I Lie’ to ‘Dark Star’, the maritime feel here is a joy. In this unassuming album, that balances power chords with doses of tranquil psychedelia, Gengahr remind us that the simplest idea, when executed well, can still generate the warmest sound.
A Dream Outside is out June 15, 2015, on Transgressive Records.
Have you listened to this album? If so, what did you think of it? Tweet me @dk33per.
Image: Transgressive Records/PR