Review Summary: So sweet it will give you a cavity and then kick your ass at Mario Kart.
If Origami Angel had committed to their schtick just slightly less, GAMI GANG
could have been a complete disaster. They take almost all of everyone’s least favorite aspects of pop-punk and lean into them as hard as they can. Immature, nostalgic lyrics, group chants, hand claps, do-do-dos, high-pitched and somewhat nasally vocals, and any other cliche you can think of. They even include breakdowns that verge on easycore, random trip hop beats, some screams, and even bossa nova. It seems as though they came up with a list of items that would annoy every music purist and dad in New Balance sneakers and thought “How can we make an album out of this?” Even better, they made it a twenty song, double album. And, against all odds, it all works
And again, it works because they commit to what they’re crafting. Origami Angel clearly had the time of their lives making this album. Yes, there are sadboi lyrics aplenty to be found, but they’re so earnest in their immature absurdity that it draws you in. This isn’t lyrical nostalgia of thinking about the good ole days or rebelling against growing old, it’s more missing those moments where we could just tell our best friends “grab your Game Boy, get in the car
”, a line that is italicized and in quotations because it actually appears in a real song that is actually titled “Mobius Chicken Strip”, an early highlight. A late highlight comes in “Caught in the Moment”, where the emphasis on the chorus is on eating Taco Bell in a Lyft, showing character progression and the passing of time from “Mobius Chicken Strip”. Or maybe all of these songs take place within a day of each other in singer/guitarist Ryland Heagy’s current life. I simply don’t know and that is so much of the beauty of GAMI GANG
. Yes the lyrics are immature and “cringe” at times, but they’re also fun and real and honest. I have a job that’s meaningful and I enjoy and am pretty settled into what might be a “grown-up” lifestyle that I’m happy with it, but I also miss the days in college where friends and I would drink mugs full of wine and watch The Bachelor or busting my ass to Best Buy to get Pokemon Emerald only to lose it at a Bowling Alley a few weeks later. Yearning for simpler, more fun times isn’t an innately immature or bad thing, it’s something that’s logical and that just about every person feels to an extent. That is the feeling that Origami Angel have captured on GAMI GANG
That feeling isn’t just conjured up from the lyrics, but also from the musicianship of the band. The band is really just a duo, with Heagy taking up the vocals, guitar, and bass and Pat Doherty on drums. There’s some debate around what genre exactly Origami Angel is, as they have been firmly planted into the new emo scene (and are perhaps ushering it in), but definitely sound inherently much more like a pop punk band. Much of that genre blending comes from Heagy’s guitar playing, which is clearly influenced by classic Midwest Emo bands of the American Football ilk. Mathy fretwork is abundant and mixed with crunchy power chords, but also mixed with incredibly unpredictable song structure. The masterful composition of the songs are another sign that this is clearly a serious album. It’s wildly inventive and unpredictable for the genre. Again, they incorporate a number of styles into what is already a pretty distinct sound. The opening one-two starts with a trip hop beat that leads into “Self-Destruct”, which begins with hard-hitting riff and then bounces back and forth between sunny pop punk guitar and easycore style riffs in a way that is not cringe-inducing (at least for most), a style also seen in “Dr. Fondoom”. “Bossa Nova Corps” states its influence right in its name, “Greenbelt Station” is a moving folk song, then there’s “/trust” and “[spoons rattling]”, which intersperse emo-folk stylings with some of the heavier sections on the album, and the delightfully titled “Neutrogena Spektor” just says “fuck it” and throws every style together in less than three minutes. Even with this bouncing around, the style is distinctly Origami Angel’s own.
To sum GAMI GANG
up, it starts with a trap beat and ends with Grant Napear saying “If you don’t like that, you don’t like NBA basketball. In the 50 minutes in between those two moments, NBA basketball is essentially one of the only things that isn’t discussed. There’s even a gosh darn Jimmy Neutron reference on this thing. Origami Angel have put together a sugar rush of a joyful album. It's fun, it's high energy, and it's the soundtrack of a good time. Is it high art? Somehow, that’s debatable. In time there will likely be just as many people who would say yes as there are who would say no - And that’s the beautiful thing about it.