ALBUM REVIEW: “Shine Your Light”


GapDream_AlbumArtGabe Fulvimar emerged on the scene last year under musical moniker Gap Dream with his eponymous debut, a psych-y, garage-y record that immediately hooked critics and listeners alike. Now he’s returning with his sophomore release, Shine Your Light, produced by Bobby Harlow in conjunction with Fulvimar himself. The ten-track album, available via Fullerton, California’s Burger Records, sees Gap Dream taking a turn with his sound—he’s developed his fuzzy pop-rock into a synth-heavy dance extravaganza.

The album opener and title track, “Shine Your Light,” is immediately futuristic. The sonically shimmery and twinkling backdrop is a stark contrast from Fulvimar’s drowsy vocals; the whole album, in fact, is a give and take between groovy and lackadaisical. “Chill Spot,” for example, the second track on the album, has a particularly swanky beat and bass line, but Fulvimar’s West Coast-y drawl and stoner lyrics (“I’m trying to find a chill spot just to organize my mind”) keep it down to earth.

While many of the lyrics on the record could come off as trite, flower child commandments (“Allow your heart to chase the dark away” from “Shine Your Light,” or “Please shine your love/Like the rays of the sun/Through the clouds above” from “Shine Your Love”), there are a few very notable exceptions. “Immediate Life Sentence,” for example, is a scathing commentary about a really shitty girlfriend. It concludes with Fulvimar’s assertion that “I don’t need to get laid that bad/I’ll just stay home and get high.” I mean, damn, that’s cold, but also extremely relatable.  On “Love Is Not Allowed” Fulvimar seems to reconcile the two points of view, seeming wistful about his inability to access intimacy in a world where there’s just no place for it, urging us to save it for another time.  The beats almost approach those of dreamy teen pop anthems from the fifties, wrapped up tight in swirling layers of synths.

Other highlights include “Snow Your Mind,” and the second to last track, “You’re From The Shadow.” The former is sultry but contemplative, a bit reminiscent of Blood Orange’s aesthetic. The latter, on the other hand, has a significantly heavier, more commanding sound than the rest of the album that might be a little leftover inspiration from Fulvimar’s days as a member of the Black Keys.

But perhaps the most telling track regarding Fulvimar’s evolution as a performer is the album’s lead single, “Fantastic Sam”.  Sonically, it’s an obvious choice to re-introduce Gap Dream to the world, with catchy hand-clap percussion, an insistent guitar riff, and wriggling synths.  But the lyrics are almost meta: “Do you know how to think, how to feel? / When you open your eyes, do I seem real?”  When sung by a man whose image borders on retro caricature, it begs the listener to examine what it means to embrace Gap Dream’s aesthetic, daring everyone to prove that they get it or admit that they don’t.

As a whole, Shine Your Light is the musical equivalent of getting abducted by pothead aliens who end up sharing their intergalactic weed with you (or the video game equivalent of such an adventure) . There are obvious psych-rock influences (most strikingly in “Shine Your Love,” a regal sounding number that brings The Kinks or The Beatles to mind), and Fulvimar clearly has some potent guitar hooks up his sleeve that inevitably get your head bobbing.  It’s a bit unfortunate that we don’t hear as much of them as we did on on Gap Dream’s debut.  Fulvimar’s effortlessly catchy melodies are still in effect, but there are too many moments where they become obscured over the course of Shine Your Light’s ten tracks.  Even if Fulvimar strays far from his familiar strengths as he explores new ones, his effort to change directions is a noble one.

For more of Gabe’s personal musings, check out his interview with audiofemme here

The album comes out 11/26 on Burger. If you can’t wait until then, listen to “Love Is Not Allowed”, here via Soundcloud: