Gus Dapperton has a good voice. In most cases, good is one of those irritating adjectives, sitting on the fence between neutral and positive, ambiguous to the degree that when in use, good can mean virtually anything. It’s like saying that someone has good eyebrows or good hair. Compliments that mean well, but achieve relatively little.
To say this about Gus Dapperton’s voice is not to acknowledge the universal truth that Gus can sing – a point that rarely seems to be in dispute – but to say that Gus has a voice with texture, a quality that makes it both aesthetically pleasing to listen to, and fascinating to place in different emotional contexts.
Gus Dapperton’s voice is particularly good in his second studio album 'Orca', which after nine months of being out in the world, has been re-released with three new tracks, ‘Sober Up’, ‘Flatline’ and ‘Steady’. On this record, his vocals disperse through extraordinary ranges that seem to almost imitate what Gus describes as the precipitous emotional highs and lows that he was experiencing as he wrote the record while on tour in 2018.
His restless and relentless highs (‘We fuck in ocean water to repent our sins’) are unbottled on ‘Palms’, which was later released with Channel Tres and accompanied by a video worthy of such world class cinema that he once wrote of.
Often on the record, Dapperton will pair his most sonically upbeat rhythm with his darkest lyrics. Of course, there is something of the demonic in this knowingly uncomfortable contradiction. Gus seems to wink at his listener: here is my acceptance of the fact that our emotions often do exist in these spaces of hellish juxtaposition. So what’s the point in trying to make much sense of them?
Speaking earlier of vocal texture, you would have heard Gus Dapperton sing, sometimes with tenderness, sometimes with passion, but just wait for him to yell. His gravelly shouts come at a point of crescendo on ‘Post Humorous’ and ‘First Aid’, and it is at these points that something is released. Only Gus will know truly what that is, but listening to that raw vulnerability will make anyone who listens, stand a little bit taller.
A tweet stumbled upon earlier which seems to sum up the collective mood of the record: “You got me with 'Medicine' now. I’m all weepy listening and eating a salad”. No great metaphor of the killer whale necessary here. Just tears and a salad. Having emotions is healthy, and unbottling them is when we begin to heal.
Words: Jessica Fynn
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