Although, the sophomore album from Ganglians opens with the perplexing dedication, “This is a sad sad song for all you sad sad people,” it quickly becomes evident that the objective of the album is actually to brighten up lives with the right touch of reverb and sun-drenched melodies. As the voice of lead singer Ryan Grubbs is full of glee and the song “Drop The Act” manifests into an upbeat beach tune, the word “sad” would never come to mind when describing anything from Still Living.
Listen to “Drop The Act” – DOWNLOAD MP3
Listen to “Sleep” – DOWNLOAD MP3
Hailing from Sacramento, California, Ganglians earned comparisons to The Beach Boys early on in their career. The group’s debut EP and full-length, both released in 2009, certainly carried a breezy California vibe, and the new album is no exception. On songs like “Evil Weave” and “Jungle,” vocals flow lucidly and guitars seem to spring with the energy of contagious laughter.
Ganglians do manage to keep a strong psychedelic foundation with contorted guitar riffs and a touch of grogginess, but the music is never lackluster. What is really impressive about this band is how many dynamics they can fit into a 5-minute song.
“Sleep” starts off like a lullaby with a twinkling keyboard and 40 seconds later, loud guitars are introduced — but only for a few seconds before going back to being gentle. Add in some choir-like harmonies and an accelerated ending, and the listener is left awestruck with all the elements that miraculously flowed together.
Then there is “Things to Know,” which is funky, almost like an ’80s r&b song with “ba dum da dums” in the background. The vocals are super silky and fresh, placed over a simple bassline and drum beat. “The Toad” is just as great, beginning with a somber intro but evolving into a hot electro track.
Some of the tracks on Still Living are unexpected but make the listener thankful that a band thought of these magnificent ways to transform a psychedelic song into something so imaginative and fun. If the sad, sad people of the world remain sad after listening to this album, then there is little hope for them.