Album Review: Gengahr - 'Sanctuary'

Psych-rock outfit Gengahr are back with their first album in two years, the emotionally loaded and sonically rich 'Sanctuary'.

Powerful, addictive, dreamy; these are three words which describe indie rock band Gengahr’s new album, Sanctuary. Formed in 2013, Gengahr inject an indie-psychedelic sound into the music industry which feels new and refreshing. The strong hooks and catchy melodies reflect a similarity with Alvvays and Bombay Bicycle Club, two respected bands which they have previously supported. It is apparent that the band explore a new tunnel of creativity and emotion in each track, which makes this album really enjoyable to listen to.

Image courtesy of Jay Whitehead.

Everything & More is the first track on the album, and the one I kept going back to when I first listened. It starts relatively softly, but the listener knows that it’s going to build into something more powerful and emotive. With the song starting with the words ‘All time low and I can’t seem to find my way out’, one can immediately identify negative feelings surrounding mental health. The lyrics of the chorus also hone in on this idea: ‘For a chance to say what I’d do / All the waking hours / I regret the way I left things now / And that’s what really hurts’. These words may point to feelings surrounding lead singer Felix Bushe’s mother sadly passing away, and so this song could be seen as an extract of Bushe’s mental diary; it appears that his personal life drove the emotive tone of the album.

Fantasy most definitely fits its name. This psychedelic, dreamy, almost instrumental track is halfway through the album, and so somewhat acts as an interval. The spoken words which are almost indiscernible give the impression of floating throughout the track. It’s hard to tell what this song is driven by – the strong synth melody only comes into the song around halfway through, and then cuts out quite abruptly. It therefore feels confusing, and yet still works. This track is one which is different from Gengahr’s traditional feel, but nevertheless injects a new wave of emotion, different to earlier lyrics on the album. Rather, Fantasy is almost a musical representation of the impact that loss can have on your mind; it feels like it’s in a daze, focus comes in and out – as depicted in the sudden synth melody – and yet everything carries on floating.

'Formed in 2013, Gengahr inject an indie-psychedelic sound into the music industry which feels new and refreshing'.

Moonlight is the last track on the album. The wobbly notes and falsetto make the song a ‘Gengahr song’, and it simply wouldn’t feel right to end the album without including these trademark features. This song rounds off the album in a very calm and nostalgic manner, which I thought was incredibly effective as I wanted to re-listen to the album from start to finish.

Sanctuary is one of those albums where you can really listen to the songs and engage in the emotions that were injected into each one. Equally, you can listen to the songs and enjoy them for their catchy melodies and soothing tones. Gengahr are most definitely a band to look out for in the next year as, if Sanctuary is anything to go by, there are more brilliant songs just waiting to be written.