A Dream Outside by Gengahr (Album)
On debut album ‘A Dream Outside’, London quartet Gengahr set themselves up to be alt-rock’s next darlings. Or do they?
aving received support from Huw Stephens, supported alt-J and featured on hipster blog bible Hype Machine, North London alt-rock quartet Gengahr are surrounded by a lofty and threatening expectation. With all this set alongside comparisons to Radiohead, their debut album A Dream Outside has become one of the most eagerly anticipated records of 2015. So how does it stand up?
Opener Dizzy Ghosts shows that the band’s alt-J support slot was born as much as from musical kinship as from a rising profile, taking shrinking bedroom melodies and melding them to trembling vocals. Gengahr, though, have an altogether rougher sound than the Mercury Prize-winning Leeds group, prising crashing indie-rock and cathartic emo as much as the softer moments.
It means that on tracks like the anthemic Heroine, a mixture of Wolf Alice’s Bros and Desaparecidos’ Mañana, they can roar as well pine, while on Powder, which ramps up the decay of Bright Eyes’ Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground, they can tick the boxes required of a toe tapping indie-rock act without irony, and still end in glorious cacophony. Where they really excel though is not simply their mastery of the transition between the soft and hard moments, but their ability to be both in the same moment. This is best felt on Where I Lie, which unites the combustibility of Heatmiser – with Felix Bushe’s vocals even possessing a little of Elliott Smith’s frailty – together with Red House Painters’ fraught sensibilities.
With such a hype afforded to Gengahr there was the very real possibility that their debut album would be a disappointment. Thankfully though it’s anything but. Because while the Radiohead comparison feels a touch premature, and fails to account for the spread of their influences, A Dream Outside has both the songwriting nous and mainstream appeal to make it one of the finest alt-rock records of 2015.
Verdict: Alt-rock that matches the hype