Flashes of brilliance
All Good Wishes, the second album by alternative duo Gulp, is a quirky, experimental album that pushes the envelope of modern indie music. All Good Wishes seems to lose itself musically from time to time in layers of modulation and digital effects. But at its core, All Good Wishes is affable and melodic, driven by its determination to be different. It’s this unending quest for innovation that ultimately defines the album, and the result is a mixed bag offering highlighted by flashes of brilliance.
Gulp is comprised of Super Furry Animals bassist Guto Pryce and wife Lindsey Leven. The duo is also accompanied by guitarist Gid Goundrey and Gwion Llewelyn of Race Horses on drums. Pryce and Leven’s collaborative songwriting is the catalyst of All Good Wishes. Lush, dreamy synthesizer progressions form the backdrop for Leven’s charming vocals on nearly every track. The band draws on various indie sub-sects, but their predilection for synth pop is the basis of Gulp’s core sound.
The strength of All Good Wishes is its ability to paint a picture. Tracks such as “Search For Your Love,” “Spend Time Right Here With You,” “Beam” and the title track all stand out by creating a rich, encompassing landscape of sound. The sonic brush with which Pryce and Leven paint drips with personality, charm and wit. “Search For Your Love,” led by Leven’s beautiful voice and guitar doused in reverb and chorus, paints a vast underwater scene. “Beam” is a city at night; “All Good Wishes” is an open road.
This unplaceable, uncanny ability to evoke vivid imagery is what makes All Good Wishes such a beautiful and expressive piece of art. But much like an art house film, the album is occasionally hampered by its desire to be profound. Gulp is at their best when carried by a simple melody and progression, which act as a beacon guiding the band through layers of additional instrumentation and effects. When the band strays from this recipe in favor of experimental progressions, alternative rhythms and even more synthesizer, Gulp’s charm is drowned out somewhat. The second half of All Good Wishes loses considerable steam due to this, and tracks such as “Following Rain,” “Ride” and “Silver Tides” feel slightly out of sync with the rest of the album.
Still, no one can blame Gulp for daring to experiment. Furthermore, this experimentation is responsible for the many flashes of brilliance throughout All Good Wishes. Fans of synth pop, indie rock and alternative music will enjoy Gulp’s newest record.