Album Review: Galapaghost – I Never Arrived
If you like alternative acoustic music, you’ve come to the right place. Galapaghost is a wonderful artist and this album I Never Arrived is an absolute stunner. From the opening guitar notes on “Mazes in the Sky” through the vocal blending, it’s obvious that this is an artful, comforting, and soothing album. The lyrics are complex at times, yet always seem accessible. Whether you’re looking for something on low volume as background to work or an esoteric, acoustic experience, this is definitely an album worth exploring.
The whole feeling of the album is engaging and thought provoking. You’ll be as stunned as I was to see “self release” beside the artist’s name. This isn’t one of those “lo-fi in my parents’ basement in one take” jobs. This is a gorgeously produced work of a true independent musician.
The complicated, minor chord turns on “Science of Lovers” remind me of a mystery film. You’re at the edge of your seat for the song, trying to figure out exactly what’s going on yet also afraid that something just might jump out and get you. The strings are strangely comforting, despite the overall feeling of uncertainty. “Salt Lake City” begins with a beautifully understated electric guitar that reminds me of Yesper. The style is timeless, not really sounding like any particular era. Sometimes I hear the 60s in it, sometimes I hear 90s alt rock in it. Mostly, I just hear unsettling, engaging melodies that draw me deeper into the album.
Again the guitar work on “Mister Mediocrity” is outstanding. It’s got a cool vibe to it and even makes a reference to Kurt Cobain at the beginning. The way the lead singer seems to be so self aware about his music, yet humble about what he’s really doing, calling his own work “mediocre” is endearing and upsetting. Dude, you’re really freaking good. You don’t need me or anyone else to tell you that; you can hear it. Anyways, “but am I ever gonna be… able to create anything that’s great?” It’s a question all creatives ask and most of us who have heard this would say that this album is itself a pretty great accomplishment.
The darkness on the title track “I never arrived” is as obviously haunting as any song I’ve ever heard. It reminds me of something that the Stones could have written some years ago. It’s got a sort of soft bleakness, though, that is in a genre all its own. The repetitive “I thought I could fly” is textured and complicated in ways that are really hard to explain. It’s cinematic, while simultaneously raw and alternative.
The track “The Greatest Roommate” is one of the most sardonic, insulting songs in recent memory. I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. It reminds me to be nice to all the songwriters I know. It rips into the grooming, odor, and behavior of a clearly undesirable roommate. Then for a pretty harsh change, “The Secrets Our Bodies Keep” is back to the dark serious work that the rest of the album has. It’s about scars and what we’ve been through; it’s an extraordinary work of critical observation and the driving alt rock anthem makes it feel like having a serious conversation with a friend while cruising down the highway with the windows down.
Definitely my favorite track on the album is “Bloom.” It feels much more optimistic, even though I think the emotion at the heart of it is something like jealousy. He’s commenting on how everyone else around him seems to be in bloom. But the structure of the song is really appealing.
All told, the album has these remarkable little moments that get in touch with some of my own darker thoughts and emotions. It doesn’t really seem like Galapaghost felt the need to censor or soften his messages. Rather, it’s the kind of writing that reminds me how important it is for songwriters to process their world through songs. This album may not be the kind that you sing along for inspiration, but it’s certainly one that will make you confront your reality in a number of ways. And the guitar work alone is worth several listens. Give it a shot.