There’s a fairly amusing story about how I originally discovered Gengahr (the band, not the Pokémon) that you should know before I dive into this album review. Humor me for a bit while I dig into the deep trenches of my mind to recall this memory. I’m getting old (I’ll be 26 this year) and it takes me longer to sift through my brain now.
Every week, our team here at KZUU puts together a Spotify playlist featuring newly-released music (which I have conveniently linked at the bottom of this review – check it out, fellow music nerds). When discussing the playlist with Shane, my supreme indie music director overlord (manager) and good friend (mortal enemy), he was quick to inform me that Gengahr was actually working with Terrorbird, a promoting platform that we work closely with here at the station. No more than a few minutes later, we get our weekly delivery of albums for the station, and – you guessed it, a new delivery from Terrorbird. They only sent us one album, and that album was Sanctuary by Gengahr. Speak of the devil and he shall appear, right? It was almost too much of a coincidence. I’ve probably told too many people about this story. That’s weird, right? Anyways… enough about that – let’s dig into the meat and potatoes of this review, folks.
For those unfamiliar with Gengahr: firstly, how dare you? This band is the bees’ knees, cousin. They’re an English “indie” rock band from London that formed a few years back in 2015. I say indie loosely, because I feel like that’s a term that’s been overused to hell and never actually tells me anything about how a band sounds. Hearing this album for the first time made me feel a sort of excitement that I haven’t felt since I first discovered Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, or Torches from Foster the People in the sense that I could listen to the entire album all the way through without wanting to skip a song, even though these albums were arguably much more experimental than anything else I had heard at the time. It’s tough being able to create music that feels refreshing, new and exciting, while also keeping it… well, listenable. Gengahr is not too poppy to truly be considered pop, but not too brooding to be considered “emo”. For me, it’s a perfect blend of melancholy and high-spirited energy that really makes it an album I can keep coming back to, no matter the season.
Sanctuary is a particularly ambitious and experimental piece of work that features help from Jack Steadman of Bombay Bicycle Club, another fantastic indie rock band from England that you should listen to. Sanctuary features some of Gengahr’s best singles, including Atlas Please and Heavenly Maybe, both of which are incredibly bouncy and fun tracks. The album seems to maintain a consistent pulse throughout, while only dipping in energy a few times in Fantasy and Soaking in Formula. Everything & More, the first track on the album, is a fantastic appetizer and a sign of good things to come, while Moonlight is a tasty little desert at the end, cleansing your palette after a particularly tasty sonic experience. If I had to summarize the album, I’d say it’s the kind of music you would want to dance to while in your pajamas and cleaning your bedroom after a particularly long depressive episode. Is that a little too specific?
Sanctuary may be the band’s third album release, but it marks their transition to a new record label: Transgressive Records. I’m excited to see and hear how this band grows and develops under their new label. Who knows, maybe we’ll see them opening for Tame Impala or some other equally huge and funky-fresh band soon. Hopefully they make it over to the west side of the world soon so I can have the great pleasure of hearing this album played live and in person.
Sanctuary gets a 5/5 from me, which marks the first one I’ve given since I started here at KZUU. Great stuff, lads.
Try: the whole damn album