It’s been a tumultuous few years for Gabriel Bruce. In the years that followed the charismatic singer’s debut album ‘Love In Arms’ in 2013, Bruce has had to deal with a painstaking break-up. And then there was the threat of finger amputation following a freak accident that occurred during his day job at a fossil dealer’s warehouse – the unfortunate event involved a magnitude of marble crushing his hand, threatening to end his music career completely. But now he returns, as smooth and as cinematically compelling as ever, with sophomore offering ‘Come All Sufferers’.
Reluctant to ease into the record, album opener ‘Freedom’ is immediately captivating with primal percussion, a theatrical breakdown and the utterly unmistakeable vocals possessed by Bruce. The track was co-written with the musician’s friend and Spector frontman Fred Macpherson, so it’s no wonder the track is lyrically clever and as sharp as ever. “If you’d like a hippie well I could grow my hair/ If you’d like a man in uniform I’ve got a bullet wound I could wear”, purrs Bruce on a bed of boisterous beats.
No two tracks on this record sound the same. From the lethargic drum beat and surprising rap verse on ‘Sacred Heart’ to the poppy disco keys and yodelling vocals of ‘So Many Of You’, Bruce’s somewhat risky experimentation has definitely paid off. The album’s title track is soulful yet inescapably eerie with spoken word aspects while the first single from the record ‘Metal Soul’ is Bruce at possibly his darkest and most forlorn.
The most overwhelming moment on the album comes courtesy of ‘Jesus Drag Queen’. As the title would suggest the track is ostentatious and nothing like anything we’ve heard from Bruce before. It’s entrenched by gritty electronic elements, grungy guitars and vicious vocals snarling, “I gave myself to God and God gave me a gun.” It’s definitely a song that leaves you feeling more and more unapologetically filthy after each listen.
Another pinnacle on ‘Come All Sufferers’ is ‘Kurt & Kanye’. The song is an unashamed social commentarial ode to the world of celebrity we are subjected to on a daily basis. Bruce croons, “We need a new vocabulary to describe a world so God damn scary / need new medication keep us sane keep us slim”, in reference to the stars of the title – as well as name dropping the two out of three Kardashian sisters. Bruce describes being a voyeur to these characters as a dirty, sinful experience which transpires sonically with undeniable grunge undertones over grooving basslines and a funky piano.
‘Come All Sufferers’ culminates with ‘Hold Me Close, Holy Ghost’. It’s one of the more stripped back parts on the LP. A slow tempo and more simplistic arrangement allows Bruce’s voice to become the primary focus. “We are weakest when we pretend to be strong” sings Bruce delicately against twinkling synths, completely laying himself bare.
The entirety of the album is a thrilling sonic journey. Flitting from genre to genre is something Bruce has always done well and his ability to lace the tracks together seamlessly is a trait which has been carried through from ‘Love In Arms’ to ‘Come All Sufferers’. Apocalyptic and religious themes tie the album’s eleven tracks together, facilitated by Bruce’s enthralling ability to illuminate a narrative. It’s a record that makes you think, but more importantly it’s a record that makes you feel something.
Words: Shannon Cotton
- - -
- - -