GAYNGS – Relayted Album Review

With GAYNGS’ first composition, “The Gaudy Side Of Town,” record producer Ryan Olson crafted what would later be the album opener for GAYNGS’ first release, entitled Relayted. This early track was so impressive that it reeled in collaborations from members of Megafaun, Bon Iver, The Rosebuds, and Lookbook. Relayted became almost like a songwriting challenge, given its intense collaboration and the fact that every track on this album shares a common 69 BPM’s.

 

As the album’s first single, “The Gaudy Side Of Town” is a brilliant example of soul influences in modern indie rock. Jazzing up traditional R&B songwriting structures, beats, and vocal stylings with psychedelic guitarwork, the first two tracks of Relayted give off a relaxed vibe like one conjured up by freak folkers, Woods. But when a cover of Godley & Creme’s “Cry” appears, the album veers strangely into alt-country territory. Yet, it is not so far removed from the previous tracks that it’s a huge shocker; perhaps “Cry” is just a stylistic anomaly, and that seems true when “No Sweat” steers the album back into R&B territory

On Relayted, though, nothing lasts long stylistically. The following track, “False Bottom,” sounds like an extended fadeout leading to an album’s bonus track. Layers of saxophone building on sludgey beats and fragmented vocals bring the album into strictly experimental psych territory for almost six minutes. All previous ties to R&B music disappear into atmospherics and noise, until “Crystal Rope” reels it back in with its funk basslines and the coy falsettos of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon.

GAYNGS then dip their toes into downtempo and electropop, and the album finally closes with the bizarre “The Last Prom On Earth,” which features Vernon with a Bone Thugs N’ Harmony-inspired mini-rap and a bit of Autotune. It is an obvious playful attempt; it sounds like it’s written for mainstream Top 40’s radio and even features a ridiculously cheesy slow jam narration ala Boyz II Men, which begs, “So just do me this last favor/ Me and you/ One last prom/ Just for me and you.”

But like the varying individuals contributing to it, Relayted is a fragmented album. Divergent songs are bridged by psychedelic experimental intros and endings, but that only serves to make the album feel even more unstable. Relayted is a respectable collaborative effort with a number of truly outstanding standalone songs. As an album, though, it is difficult to listen to in its entirety without glossing over at points.

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Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/she) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

In 2017, Vee released the narrative short film, Searching Skies — which touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States — and co-organized The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. 2022 sees the release of their next short film, Reckless Spirits, which is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature film.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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