Following on from their well-received 2014 debut, Season Sun, Gulp – the duo of Guto Pryce of Super Furry Animals and Lindsey Leven – are back with All Good Wishes, their second album of laid-back psychedelic pop.
The album starts off with ‘Search For Your Love’, which acts as a statement of intent. Retro synths and drum machines dominate the track, with flourishes of guitar vibrato recalling to the Californian influence said to have inspired their debut.
Fans of Super Furry Animals will already know the score, and will find much to enjoy here (as would fans of Melody’s Echo Chamber and perhaps even modern-day Brian Jonestown Massacre). Leven’s vocals sit delicately on a bed of dreamy, ethereal music that displays great craft and attention to detail, if somewhat unoriginal in its delivery. Truth be told, the album is something of a grower. Despite the refined, restrained and well-thought-out musical passages (which are admirable), the music itself isn’t particularly gratifying on first listen, with no big hooks to demand attention with.
The echo-chamber ambience of the title track is something and nothing – a nice idea that doesn’t remain interesting for its three-minute run time. However, Synthpoppy number ‘Morning Velvet Sky’ raises the stakes; it’s I Feel Love-esque groove a far more euphoric turn. Late-album highlight ‘Ride’ hints at a more sinister underbelly, with its droning synths and Western rock n’ roll swagger from the bass and drums.
‘Silver Tides’ ends the album on a high, opening with a drum loop that could have been sampled from the new Parquet Courts album, before evolving into an almost hymn-like verse section that’s both blissfully uplifting and melancholic all at once. It’s the LCD Soundsystem-inspired festival song this album needed, a well-judged change of pace.
But as indie music fans at large move away from the psychedelic revival towards a more post-punk, underground sound, it’s unlikely that Gulp will have the same impact with All Good Wishes as they may have done in 2014. In the politest possible way, their fan base know who they are, and what they want, and it’s unlikely their reach will stretch much beyond that (though, truthfully, this probably isn’t the concern of a pair of mid-40s professional songwriters who must have seen dozens of trends come and go in their time).
Gulp may not be reinventing the wheel, or even showing signs of becoming a crossover success, but they know their trade well. The band appear almost effortless in their delivery, and to listen to All Good Wishes is to listen to a group who truly believe in everything they are doing, regardless of what the masses will make of it.
All Good Wishes is out now via E.L.K Records.