All Good Wishes by GulpRelease date: August 3, 2018
Label: ELK Records
Whilst Guto Pryce may be more known as one part of Welsh wizards Super Furry Animals, he has been cutting a fine shape for himself through his other band Gulp. Along with his partner Lindsey Leven on vocals/synths, and guitarist Gid Goundrey, Gulp have been created mini pop nuggets steeped in psychedelic sunshine. Debut album, Season Sun was a majestically idiosyncratic affair as they explored the boundaries between mesmeric krautrock, and 60’s bubblegum pop. Here, on second album, All Good Wishes, they get more broodier and darker.
The broodiness may well stem from the birth of Guto and Lindsey’s first child, and at first these songs seem a little more introspective than the day-glo opportunities provided by Season Sun. Cut beneath the surface though, and you find some superlative little gems all wrapped up in an intriguing bubble of sound.
It’s the synths that take front stage, and although they are keep to a minimalist quality, only used when the time is right, they become the beacon of life over a throbbing undergrowth. Much like the album’s theme of searching for a new home, the synths become the sound of relocation as they dance their way through a giddy path.
There’s almost a detached coldness to opening song ‘Search For Your Love’, as if there is an urge to not quite let go. The freedom that it seeks soon surfaces on the wonderful ‘Claudia’, a song which marries bubblegum pop harmonies with glistening synths, into a joyful sound. On what is a relatively dark album, there are a few moments within All Good Wishes when they let the disco ball out, and its this balance which makes for such an interesting ride.
It’s the darker, broodier aspect which intrigues the most though, and we get our first inkling of this on ‘Spend Time Right Here With You’ which features a rather haunting cello bringing a lonely warmth to proceedings. This feeling of haunted loss is visited again on the excellent ‘Following Rain’ which creates a wistful longing which never lets up until the close of ‘Watching Ships’. With ‘Ride’ in between, its a peak moment for the album, although emotionally the peak is very confused and low.
Outside of this rather substantial fare, we get the krautrock menace of ‘Morning Velvet Sky’ which simply throbs its way into existence, the mesmerising title track which, for all its brevity, may actually be the best track on here, and shows a very grown up side to Gulp. Last, but certainly not least, is the almost celebratory ‘Silver Tides’, a song which finally provides us with some closure after all the searching. We may have relocated to the sea, but those tides still keep turning, and soon we may find ourselves adrift again. Guto and Lindsey may have left one home, and found another, but those feelings of loss and belonging never go, and the changing of the tide is always there.
All Good Wishes is a much more grown up than Season Sun. It’s good to see the band build on that excellent debut and continue to push forward with Gulp music. That they can exist alongside Guto’s day job is cause for celebration too, although with the lack of original music coming from that direction, we can only have cause for celebration that we get more Gulp. That difficult second album may have reached a dark patch, but within that darkness lies a very interesting future.