New Music Monday: Gulp
Optimism can be a hard quality to come by, especially in a world that seems to pride itself on cynicism and negativity. But that’s exactly why we need a band like Gulp in our lives. The lush Welsh/Scottish pop group is happy to consider itself an antidote to the creeping pessimism of modern life.
“It’s what comes out of us naturally,” says Gulp’s vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Lindsey Leven. “Everything that you’re writing from the heart is a reflection of what’s going on in your life.” Her husband and bandmate Guto Pryce agrees, “It’s even in times of adversity that we try to remain optimistic.”
In 2014, Gulp has plenty to be enthused about! Pryce has a musical legacy to be proud of, having spent the past 20 years as a founding member of UK pop superstars Super Furry Animals. And Pryce and Leven are both glowing from the joy of writing and recording music together.
But even amid that, there could have been a turn towards more moody and desperate material. Instead, the pair, with bandmates Gid Goundrey (guitars) and Gwion Llewelyn (drums/vocals), came out with Season Sun, a fuzzy, buzzing upbeat ode to the changing seasons, watching plants grow, dancing, and as they sing on “Vast Space,” being willing to “open up your heart and let the love flood in.”
The “vast space” isn’t just the one within, either. The natural world played a key part in the creation of these songs, some written while Pryce and Leven were vacationing in the California desert, others while road tripping through the Scottish Highlands (you’ll find images of these adventures with the album art) .
There’s some connection to be found between these sounds and what Pryce accomplished as a member of the Furries – the two projects share a love of warm vintage synth sounds and a burnished brand of psychedelia. But Gulp expresses itself with almost throwback sentiments. Apart from a few moments, Season Sun could easily be mistaken this for a lost gem of the late ‘60s unearthed by a studious crate digger.
For as verdant as Gulp’s sound is, the core belongs the musical relationship between Pryce and Leven. When the project began back in 2012, their first efforts centered on just the couple and their trusty drum machine, a Roland 505 donated to them by Leven’s yoga teacher. And even amid the fine contributions of Goundrey and Llewelyn, the heart of each song is the harmonic interplay between Leven’s vocals and the warming synth and bass notes from her musical co-pilot.
Gulp’s humble beam of multicolored musical light has already made its way through the band’s native UK thanks to a well loved lead single “Game Love” and a tour supporting Django Django. The quartet is now looking to taking their message of optimism through the US with their first stop being this year’s SXSW Festival and hopefully some more touring to round out the rest of 2014.