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Ganglians - Monster Head Room

Ganglians, Monster Head Room

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

SACRAMENTO’S Ganglians are the latest purveyors of psychedelia laced folk-rock to hit our shores from the other side of the Atlantic… and they come with some positive reviews ringing in their ears.

But while there are moments to admire on their debut album, Monster Head Room, it’s not quite the trippy masterpiece that some critics are claiming.

Certainly, there’s a very definite blend of retro influences such as The Beach Boys (echoed vocals, background harmonies), married to psych-folk of acts such as Grizzly Bear. But, if anything, Ganglians veer ever more towards the off-kilter on occasion, and render themselves less appealing as a result.

Like we said, though, there’s still plenty to admire, particularly when they keep things close to the mainstream. Former single Candy Girl is a daydream of a track that makes it easy to see how they’ve endeared themselves to so many, while Lost Words is a deliciously breezy slice of retro-soaked Beach Boys inspired Californian sun.

But when they veer from cute ’60s pop numbers to more tripped out epic status they struggle to overcome their own self indulgences. Valient Brave ends up sounding like an annoying jamming session, The Void drifts from stripped back and dreamy to warped and “out there” in a really annoying kind of way, and the six minute trip through the forest that is To June just doesn’t work as a cohesive whole – something that the background effects (bullfrogs, woodpeckers, birdlife, insect life, etc) doesn’t help.

Some may applaud Ganglians’ ambition and adventurous nature, but having endeared so early… they tend to get lost in the middle section of the long-player.

Fortunately, they bring it back. the shimmering, laidback folk of Cryin’ Smoke is a really laidback listen that benefits from returning to a more classic song structure, fewer sonic embellishments and a really fine folksy guitar backing, and there’s more shimmering ’60s pop hooks surrounding the bombastic Try To Understand.

Bonus tracks Blood On The Sand and Make It Up also round the album off in style – the former a scuzzy dancefloor filler that’ll get your hips swinging, the latter a “woo-hoo” laden pop gem – thereby ensuring you’ll probably want to hear more from them.

But the middle section mars things a bit and it’s a shame they couldn’t have kept the album a little more focused.

Download picks: Lost Words, Candy Girl, Cryin’ Smoke, Blood On The Sand, Make It Up

Track listing:

  1. Something Should Be Said
  2. Voodoo
  3. Lost Words
  4. Candy Girl
  5. Valient Brave
  6. Void, The
  7. To June
  8. 100 Years
  9. Cryin’ Smoke
  10. Modern African Queen
  11. Try To Understand
  12. Blood On The Sand [bonus track]
  13. Make It Up [bonus track]