Monday, January 20, 2014

Genders - Get Lost (2013)

Portland indie rock quartet Genders' journey began long before their first demos emerged back in April of 2012. Back when half of its members were in the tragically short-lived Youth and its summery jangle rock. In fact, several of Genders first tracks recalled those beach rock jams in "Show Me" and even EP/Get Lost track "Golden State". However, as the foursome offered up more and more tunes saw the light of day, it was clear there was more to the band than sunny surf-friendly melodies and as the band incorportated darker textures and developed the art of the longform jam, the development of a full length of unique and worthwhile tracks became not only an inevitability but also cause of anticipation. 
On "Something to Get You By", their full length's heavy album opener, Genders pull absolutely no punches. Sure to be most people's introduction to Genders, it starts right out the gate featuring the full band in a display of shoegaze-y fuzz before the portentous stormclouds disperse to reveal Maggie Morris as the guide for the tumultuous journey. Her vocals are light but seem incapable of drowning in the sea of haze as the band weave a complex web of intense jams around her. 

While not everyone is likely to have followed Genders from the start (both its own and its past-life as Youth), it is precisely this that enables the band to function so effectively. Their guitarists' (Stephen Leisy and Maggie Morris) familiarity aids in the intricacy of their impressive clustered jangle. Most of Get Lost's tracks feature the band's instrumental prowess and for a band that was less tight-knit, less precise, less practiced, and less engaged it would be sure to be their downfall - creating an album that not only seemed overly long but dragging and painfully so. This isn't the case with Genders on Get Lost - who even revisit previously released tracks to give them whole new context. "Twin Peaks" is a whole new beast, less oppressive but with a far more ethereal edge as Morris' vocals are given a ghoulish glow due to its altered production. Her shouts of "don't want to see, don't want to hear, you love me" ring out like warnings with higher stakes than discomfort. They're even able to fit a purely instrumental track on the album in "How Long Can I Wait?" that's interesting in its own right and not just as a bridge between the brighter and darker-tinged album cuts. 

A vocal supporter of Genders from the start, it's amazing to see the band's transformation. Get Lost plays like an true rock album from a group of talented performers. Ones that don't need a crazy amount of studio time to get it right. Get Lost's greatest achievement is in it's duality - part shredfest with an emotional resonant core. Its tracks are definitely jams but mindfully so - the band's talents are fully on display without the need for any excessive spotlighting and the cohesiveness not only of the tracks themselves but the album itself is an impressive feat. It's a worthwhile placeholder for what's sure to be an utterly incredible live experience. Here's hoping it's not too long before Genders get to make tours a regular part of their lives. It's certainly a must for a band this good at what they do. 

You can stream/download Genders' full length debut Get Lost:

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