Sacramento’s Ganglians are back two years after their last dual-album release of their self-titled debut and Monster Head Room in 2009. With producer Robby Moncrieff on board (Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca) this time around, they’ve taken some time to present their newest album Still Living, released August 23, 2011. Does it hit the musical bull’s-eye? Well …
The album kicks off with “Drop the Act,” starting off seemingly bold with its vocal proclamations. “This is a sad sad song for all you sad, sad people. Why don’t you pick up the phone and tell me what you’re going through.” And from there it delves into a 60s sing-a-long pop-jam. The upbeat tempo keeps me bopping along for most of the song until it disappears into a harmonic fade out.
Ganglians take on a more psychedelic-pop approach with “That’s What I Want.” The jangly beat and catchy guitar riff draw you in, but then the vocals become disjointed and it sounds like they’re in their own trippy Alice in Wonderland-eat-me-drink-me world. They get big, they shrink, they get loud, they get soft and I just can’t seem to get into it.
Unfortunately, the other thing they do is lose some of their focus and as soon as that happens, my A.D.D. kicks in and I’m on to the next song. “Evil Weave” is a bit more of the same. You can shake your head and sway, and the guitar tones are pleasant enough, but pretty forgettable. “Jungle” brings a little noise (the song ends in car alarms), dance and carefree vibes thanks to the catchy guitar riffs, “woah oh ohs” and euro garage beat. This is by far my favorite song on the album.
Just as this cool jam starts to warm me up to the zonked-out psych fun party I’m finally beginning to imagine in my head, the album takes a turn for the boring. There are plenty of sounds here but where are the songs? They get long and drawn out, losing steam. They bleed and blur into one another and the lack of fluidity has me listening with one ear out the door. I take a small shining to sound bites here and there. The 80s low end bass of “Things to Know” is bumpin’ though out of place, and the lo-fi guitar licks and fuzzy vox of “Faster” makes me wanna pogo. The thing is, these delights are short-lived. Overall, the second half of the album is seriously lacking. It’s a musical dart game where nobody hits the bull’s-eye. The guitarist probably comes closest, but in terms of sound—the tonal qualities, instrumentation and arrangements, they don’t seem to be hitting the creative, melodic and original marks. Ultimately, you’ll have to take a listen for yourself and see if it hits your musical bull’s-eye.
Album Review by Emily Saex
- To Listen to/share Ganglians’ “Drop the Act” click here.
- To Listen to/share Ganglians’ “Sleep” click here.
- To Listen to/share Ganglians’ “Jungle” click here.