Published Oct 15, 2020For almost eight years, Montreal's Gulfer have been one of the most prominent math rock bands in a genre that has never been well-represented in Canadian music. On their earlier releases, culminating in 2018's underrated Dog Bless, Gulfer crafted blissful punk-adjacent songs that were among the best of the mid-2010s emo revival. Now, Gulfer's new self-titled album, their third full-length, find the group giving their songs a sense of space allowing their pop hooks to shine through.
"Heat Wave," one of Gulfer's best songs to date, showcases of what the band do best — spritely give-and-go between guitarists Joe Therriault and Vincent Ford with twinkly, tender moments revealing hidden inner thoughts about complex relationships with lines like, "And I don't wanna walk past your apartment cause you're acting strange in this heat wave." Lead single "Forget (Friendly)" is drenched in moody down-stroked guitar and Ford's passionately flared lead vocals asking, "You call me up just to talk to me, am I wasting your time?" Like all great anxiety-driven lyrics, they are most therapeutic when yelled, point blank, over big, loud guitars.
There are still plenty of moments where Gulfer show off their intricate guitar interplay and technical prowess. "Letters" is carried by kinetic, playful guitars and Julien Daoust's rapturous drum fills while "Blurry" turns on a dime at several points, with wound up guitars elastically volleying between of crackling eruptions and overlapping chains of polyrhythms.
Gulfer's math rock never feels challenging or overwrought — on Gulfer, the band often pull back and lets their frenzied emotions soak, while everything is held together by bellowing undertones from bassist David Mitchell. Gulfer have channeled their energetic approach towards rejuvenating melodies and lingering, raw feelings and their latest is a truly satisfying embodiment of their most collaborative songwriting effort to date. (Royal Mountain Records)