When you imagine a modern supergroup, it’s more or less a watered-down version of each member’s music blending haphazardly in an attempt to mirror Cream or, dare anyone say, Asia-like success. Gayngs falls into the indie collective category and their debut album, Relayted, boasts quite a brilliant, cohesive throwback to late ’80s soft radio rock.
Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon is one of the many seemingly out-of-place artists contributing to the Ryan Olson-led project. Relayted opens with “The Gaudy Side of Town,” a healthy dose of Diamond Life-era Sade with enough punchy, slappy bass to make you wish Peter Cetera was still relevant (come on, he still is). Vernon’s trademark over-reverberated falsetto adds to the fluttering, broken tube radio sound.
“The Walker” is a creepy, country-folk sleeper combining subtle “oohs” and “ahs” with surprisingly fitting percussive gunshots. The last time a gunshot, or any loud bang for that matter, worked in the artist’s favor was Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s “Thug Luv.”
This album is all about bringing the essence of these retro-styled soundtracks to Emilio Estevez movies. Instead of throwing the pizzazz of Paul Weller’s The Style Council’s wingtip-moving, blue-eyed soul or bleeding out your heart a la Bryan Adams’s “Everything I Do (I Do It For You),” we hear mainly snippets of chilling organ lines, smooth jazz sax, and trip-hop drums; the vocals in particular are almost drowned out in tasteful reverb–see “Cry” and “The Crystal Rope.”
Relayted, whether tongue-in-cheek or a sincere effort at breathing life into what’s mostly seen as the AM Gold of the ’80s, provokes thought on how we perceive the cheesiest of cheese in pop music. Just be glad Olson and friends were the first to explore.