Review Summary: A novelty with substance? Well, if you insist...
Gunship is the synthwave/pop side-project of Alex Westaway (the non-Charlie Simpson vocalist/guitarist) and Dan Haigh (bassist) of UK rock/post-hardcore band Fightstar, formed while on hiatus since 2009’s ‘Be Human’.
Here endeth any relevance and/or mention.
From the neon-oozing, Mega Drive-parodying artwork, to the VHS effects on the videos, to the fantastically tacky effects on their website, it is clear that Gunship were built for 1989 before even the opening bars of the album ring out.
But herein lies a question – given the obvious worship to this era, is there any depth hiding behind this unashamed lack of subtlety"
Or is ‘Gunship’ (like a seemingly endless legion of modern comics) merely content in acknowledging past pop culture without any further expansion"
Fortunately for the listener, very much the former.
First of all, the production on this album is absolutely pristine – every fuzzy, reverb-soaked layer of analogue synthesizer sounds perfectly placed in the mix, balanced by melodramatic drum patterns that always stay true to their influence rather than taking a more standard EDM trajectory.
Westaway’s vocals have never been the strongest, but he finds a very good range here, allowing a more gentle delivery to come through that greatly suits him.
Lead single ‘Fly For Your Life’ features guest vocals from Stella La Page, sultrily playing off Westaway’s almost Bastille-esque choruses to create a startlingly atmospheric contrast to the vicious dogfight scenes of the video (seriously, check that *** out).
While it’s hard to pick out particular highlights
as such, tracks such as ‘Tech Noir’, ‘Pink Mist’ and ‘Kitsune’ display an almost alarming solemn maturity in songwriting against such a silly concept.
The 80’s synthwave movement undeniably shapes this record, but Gunship bring real talent and nous to avoid letting the songs grow in their own right rather than becoming caricatures.
If there is a weak point here, it might be ‘Revel In Your Time’ – a very good track in it’s own right, and arguably the most outwardly fun track on offer here, but set against the rest of the record, it doesn’t quite flow, and Westaway’s vocals are a little strained at points, but it’s a minor subtlety when the rest of the album holds such quality.
Gunship are to be applauded here for creating such a well-rounded novelty on the one hand, and a fantastic pop record on the other.
Now, where did I put my copy of StarFox"