Album Review: Gengahr – Where Wildness Grows

Album artwork for 'Where Wildness Grows' by Gengahr

After planting the seeds of greatness with their debut, Gengahr show just how much they’ve bloomed with second album ‘Where Wildness Grows’.

Gengahr didn’t have a label or management when they began recording their beguiling debut ‘A Dream Outside’. The North London four-piece – Felix Bushe (vocals/guitar), John Victor (guitar), Danny Ward (drums) and Hugh Schulte (bass) – also made their first album without the shackles of having toured the songs to death. They then took it on tour pretty solidly for a year and a half before spending the next year writing and recording. Their second album is the result. ‘A Dream Outside’ may have been made in a bit of a bubble, but ‘Where Wildness Grows’ (released 9th March via Transgressive Records) sounds like it was made with experience, emotion and a new freedom.

While the quirkiness of ‘A Dream Outside’ grew on me over numerous plays – and after I’d seen them play it live – ‘Where Wildness Grows’ was love at first listen. You’d expect that I could simply explain the reasons why I’ve fallen for this album, but it goes deeper than that – like a gut feeling. What I can tell you is that when I first listened to it my heart began to pound and my skin was pricked by goosebumps.

Simply gorgeous album opener ‘Before Sunrise’ is a hazy taste of summer with Bushe’s vocals melting into the breezy melody, underpinned by a grooving bassline and punctuated by the sharp riff. The anthemic swoon of ‘Mallory’ swirls on bending guitar notes before the ridiculously catchy vocal melody of the psychedelic swoon that is ‘Is This How You Love’.

There is a lyrical intimacy in this album that was maybe lacking on their debut. In ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ Bushe sings “still in love with you, that’s alright, I’ll be waiting” over a ticking beat and jangling guitars. Title track ‘Where Wildness Grows’ is an exploration of the passion and challenges that make us get out of bed each morning – “somewhere wildness grows in the place deep down” – with stripped-back verses preceding a chorus of soaring and crushing distortion. I adore the way the drama and pain inflicted in the relationship described in ‘Blind Truth’ is reflected in Bushe’s vocals – “I never mean to hurt you, it’s just the way it goes”.

There is plenty more to love from a musical point of view too. ‘Carrion’ – from its shimmering start to the intense rush of guitar and the slight snarl in Bushe’s vocal – shows a wonderful lack of restraint. There is the rockier ‘Burning Air’ before the almost orchestral electro backdrop to ‘Left In Space’. ‘Pull Over (Now)’ is verging on a ballad while ‘Rising Tides’ has a late-night groove to it. The epic finale of ‘Whole Again’ is the perfect end to this album, with layered vocals used to great effect and lyrics that are hopeful for a cause not lost.

This is a collection of twelve stunning songs, all with hooks that take root deeply in your brain and leave you hopelessly addicted to them. The amount of time I’ve spent humming the riffs, as well as singing the words, is a testament to this. Moving away from the lo-fi sound of their debut, Gengahr have thrived through developing rich layers in their music. Victor uses his guitar to create shimmering synth sounds through various pedals while the development of Bushe’s already gorgeous vocals – from his now familiar falsetto to the warmth and depth in his voice – leave you hanging on every word.

On their second album, Gengahr show their growth from quirky guitar band to flourishing indie innovators. They have given their music space and time to germinate and it’s paid off. ‘Where Wildness Grows’ is blooming brilliant.

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