I've seen Phantom of the Opera enough to know by now that I shouldn't judge a book by its cover
, and yet I couldn't help myself when it came to listening to Gap Dream's self titled debut album. All of the songs were recorded and produced by one man, Gabriel Fulvimar, who also wrote all but one track (that being a cover of obscure early garage rock band The Squires). The album was also put out on California-based Burger Records, which is home to just about any relevant throwback garage punk act of the last half-decade (King Tuff, Hunx & His Punks, Nobunny, Black Lips). Finally, it was endorsed on Twitter by the kings of sounding like you weren't meant for this era, Girls (R.I.P. Girls). Put all that together and you can't entirely blame me: you've probably surmised what this is going to sound like, too.
It's a blissful experience, then, when Gap Dream takes the time to prove you wrong. Sure, there are a lot of elements present here that you can't say you didn't see coming: psychedelic walls of droning guitar punctuated by the occasional whiny riff, some punchy basslines, unintrusive keyboards, and chilled-out harmonies. Nonetheless, Fulvimar pieces these together with fresh fervor and originality for as long as it takes for you to realize that you may have entirely underestimated this album. For me, that kick came with "Greased", in which synthesizer take the forefront, the guitar drones adopt a funky texture, and the bass switches from punchy to throbbing. I can't say that I've found many other albums in this field that feature songs I would play during a blockbuster heist scene.
Clearly, when you drop your garage rock conceit (or come without any to begin with), you'll find Gap Dream a force to be reckoned with, and with an ear for hooks to match (I'm still humming them as I write this). The album holds a few more charming treats, like gospel organ on "Scary Dennis", synthesized Gary Glitter "Rock and Roll" drums on "Heart", a host of smarmy couplets in the lyrics, and a healthy dose of ghoulish laughter. These ingredients combine to create gems like aforementioned cover "Go Ahead", which rambles into sunshine pop territory, and opening and closing tracks "58th St. Fingers" and "Slave", which sound so beachy and brooding that I imagine them scoring a viking funeral on a burning surfboard. Moreover, what these ingredients truly make is a powerful, well-crafted album that makes me want to pack up my car for a hot summer's day on the beach (R.I.P. summer days on the beach).