Published Jun 10, 2020Under the GUM moniker, Jay Watson, of Tame Impala and Pond fame, has carved out a considerable knack for hitching glitchy neo-psych punch with meditative sprawl, staying true to off-kilter beginnings where partner in crime Kevin Parker has opted for all-out pop glitz. Out in the World runs the gamut of familiar elements that have come to grace the work he has spearheaded to date, jostling between space rock turbulence and aimless haze with aplomb.
The Australian multi-instrumentalist's solo offshoot remains in fine fettle, to an extent, on this fifth album in six years; increasingly disparate angles taken, tilting between a broader range of tone and tempo than that boasted on predecessor The Underdog. A tendency to settle for the listless and static does, however, persist, offset by a much more capricious instinct; ambling between the languid and soaring at a whim, Watson directs his luminous brush with an occasionally productive lack of restraint. This sense of excess often works in his favour, adeptly applied to "Airwalkin'", Middle Eastern influences bearing on it in a blistering synthesis of style and cadence.
GUM's core model, lurching between wavering synth, deep bass and delicate acoustic, does continue to dominate — an ever-present pillar of Watson's sound that can blossom into sublime, intriguing results but also intersect with grandiose schmaltz, such as that of "The Thrill of Doing It Right." This ephemeral route serves to break up padding but can distract from the album's singular moments. Despite such inclinations towards the jaded and cyclical at times, Out in the World boasts enough latitude and flexibility to hook interest. (Spinning Top)