November 30, 2016

LP: Gurr - In My Head

Gurr combines cruising rock, nostalgic punk, and pop charm on In My Head.

It’s easy to tell from Gurr’s Internet presence that they have a sense of humor. Gurr, comprised of friends Andreya Casablanca and Laura Lee, are the cream of Berlin’s femme-empowered rock crop. Their zany call-and-response vocals and spunky, smirking lyrics are indisputably the highlight of the recent album In My Head. Gurr combines cruising rock, nostalgic punk, and pop charm to make something really unique. In My Head is silky smooth at times, but at others, it kicks hard.

Opening track “Breathless” and third track “Moby Dick” display upbeat reverb-filled guitars, insistent drum lines, and catchy hooks; on “Breathless,” thrilling backup oohs call “Time Warp” to mind. The songs are a fair example of the whole record’s ability to satisfy one’s hankering for quirky girl-garage. At the same time, “Breathless” demonstrates the eerie quality that skirts around the edges of In My Head’s catchy two/three minute smorgasbord. Truly, there’s a part of this record that’s from the swamp. It’s audible in the sick, echoing groove of “Walnuss,” the minimalist angst of “Diamonds,” the sultry swing of “Mildred,” and the ghostly fifth-interval harmonies in “Free.” The latter song is a stand-out—hypnotic and punctuated with a curious hollow pounding effect in the percussion. “Free during the nighttime baby, ‘cause other people’s dreams is what I eat,” repeats like a mantra, and then a frantic breakdown halfway in shatters the slow-moving spell. The lyrics become a story of an adolescent night out. “Free” is indicative of Gurr’s unique ability to transition their songs smoothly from self-aware trashy platitudes into curious, half-serious statement pieces.

For all its underlying spookiness, some of the record’s most appealing tracks are simple and teen-anthemic. The second song, "#1985," is exemplary in this right. It’s a dirty positive garage number with quirky backup harmonies in which “underage drinking, fucking around...” is repeated into oblivion. It's an ode to suburban adolescents like those loved in decades past—only this time, with women at the front. The duo are excellent vocal performers, utilizing all the historical devices with which women have demanded space in genres where bands are largely fronted by men. Their prowess stands out most on “Klaurtram,” which features impressive screaming, spoken word, and jeering unison backup vocals; also on the clever “Computer Love” which makes use of expertly timed vocal samples, whines and wails. The album taps into punk flavor with screwy lyrical refrains throughout, such as “Yosemite’s” “your dog is all alone at your house” and “Rollerskate’s” straightforward “Roller roller skate skate!” These two tracks, five and eight on the album respectively, showcase Gurr’s strongest, and most conflicting, points: on “Yosemite,” time changes twist the song’s wet groove like rock outcroppings. “Rollerskate,” on the other hand, charges straight ahead with a winking teenage innocence, banging until it finishes. Gurr have written an album that shows they know what they’re doing with numerous rock conventions, and on top of that, In My Head’s endearing charisma will keep you returning.

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Listen to Gurr on bandcamp.

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Jess is a college student from Nashville living in NYC. She enjoys February, tape hiss, and peanut butter cups. Find her tweeting self-consciously here.