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  • Writer's pictureLeon Riccio

REVIEW: Gag Salon's 'Get a Load of This Guy' feels like dad-dancing into oblivion

Album art by Bette Blanchard

Recorded immediately after a 12-hour Megabus voyage, ‘Get A Load Of This Guy,’ the debut EP from art-rockers Gag Salon introduces, conveys, and consolidates the frustrating absurdity of mundane modern living in just over 20 minutes.

The five-track EP opens with ‘Germs’, a four-ish minute mission statement, sporting funky but unsettling guitar and key riffs. Frontman Joseph Mumford wails over discordant melodies with sarcastic lyrics, relenting the oddities of 21st century capitalism - see ‘I’m not going in circles/ I’m not going on a juice diet’ or ‘skin care routine/ take my body,’ delivered with stark horror in his voice.

Moving into ‘Horses’, Mumford takes the absurdity of his already spaced-out lyrics up a notch further, with ‘I don’t need a saddle/ I can ride you bare’. The track stinks of Antidotes-era Foals (no pun intended), with more than a smudge of drug-induced-psychosis. The track shows real dynamism between the solemn breaks and the frantic guitars, and it also has an addictive set of synth whirls that really make the track stand out in the collection.

‘My Gun,’ the first single released by the Berkshire-native band, hard-bakes the funk/punk noise-rock instrumentation, while Mumford agonises over his own self-awareness on the woes of a middle-class existential nightmare. This is up until the song’s final strait, where the vocals drop out and a gorgeous keyboard-riff pushes through the guitars as they continually degenerate further and further.

Gag Salon playing The Facebar, Reading.

‘Don’t Eat Stuff off the Pavement’ aims for the bullseye in terms of dynamics and it pays off, plunging from the jolty guitar-pop surface into a deep well of reverb, ambience, and brooding vocals, and then jumping back into the upbeat verses. Then flushing that all away with a nostalgic 2000’s alt-rock closing section, and then throwing it all to the wall with a cacophonous crash of instruments - a song structure which perfectly reflects the stages of a night out that you know you should have left hours ago.

On the final track, the lyrics on ‘21st Century Classical Music’ beat you over the head with the vocalist’s (and presumably the listener’s) early-onset-midlife-crisis. By this point in the EP, I am exhausted as a listener - however I think this just further cements what Gag Salon wants you to feel. The song still sounds fun and dance-inducing, but not without the ominous and paralysing lyrical themes. Its bouncy melodies and undeniably catchy vocal hook (‘you know what I mean’) act as a solid bookmark to the full EP.

All in all, the collection does what it does very well - it bungles alt-rock, funk, and post-punk into a thrilling package, thriving in the uncanny-valley of guitar pop - and all the while refusing to sacrifice the whimsical for the sincere. Job well done, you freaky bastards.

You can find Gag Salon's music on Spotify, YouTube, and Bandcamp.

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