Jay Watson, working under the GUM moniker, has just released his Flash In The Pan album. While Jay is mostly known for his work with Tame Impala and Pond, the young author has also treated us with three solo albums so far. His latest release comes following last year’s Glamorous Damage.
I’ve described his previous album as a psychedelic-funk-pop-rock euphoria, so I was really wondering if GUM could outdo himself. Would I find that beautiful merge of funk, pop and psychedelia again? After the short intro, he hits us with “Gemini” and gives us at least some of the answers right away. Even though Jay’s a Gemini, he’s not talking about himself. He states that the song is “about people pinning stuff happening in their lives on things like star signs and religion”. The song is the first one he recorded for the album and he kept the recognizable course: funk pop! “Gemini” is utterly melodic, emotional, dreamy and atmospheric. However, the groove and the funk make the track danceable. He follows up with the same atmosphere on “If You’re Gonna Love Again”: a funky sensual slow dancer. He decides to stir things up with “Deep Razz” where we can again hear more psychedelic side of his work. GUM plays with various genres and influences by merging them into his own unique creation. This artist clearly puts his own signature on his work and once you hear GUM, you won’t escape the originality. While with Glamorous Damage I almost felt I travelled back in time to the 80s computer world boom, Flash In The Pan feels more emotional, more atmospheric and ethereal with songs like “Ophelia”, “Rares” and “Honey (Don’t Cry)”. GUM surprises us with unusual melodic twists and “Rares” is such an example. He is not trying to sound melancholic. However, there are moments when he really hits us in the soft spot. But GUM knows when to pull the funk gun and “Heatwave” sounds like a pure 1.5 minute cosmic funk injection. He shows his devotion to funk once more on “Deep Heat” which combines that certain outer space feel with the retro sound, at moments even sounding jazzy. Another absolute hit song, “Don’t Let Time Get You Down” shows us that GUM’s not forgetting about the colourful and groovy world of synth-funk. He closes another chapter of the most vivid soundscapes with a “space-ballad” “Distorted Star”, yet another emotional and soothing track with brilliantly crafted arrangements. GUM traded a bit of psychedelia for more pop and melancholic feel on this album, but remained recognizable in his ideas and visions that will leave you stunned and overwhelmed whether you’re his fan or the first time listener.
1. Flash In The Pan, 2. Gemini, 3. If You’re Gonna Love Again, 4. Deep Razz, 5. Ophelia, 6. Heatwave, 7. Deep Heat, 8. Rares, 9. Honey (Don’t Cry), 10. Don’t Let Time Get You Down, 11. Flash In Japan, 12. Distorted Star