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.

ALBUM REVIEW CONTINUED BELOW


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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