Do you ever delve ear-first into an album knowing that it’s not your cup of tea, but you proceed to guzzle it anyway? Such is my experience with “The Gimpheart Tapes. Vol. 2,” a short album that I honestly do not think I will be into, especially because I’m going right into a sequel without having heard the first one. The cover art makes me feel like I should be under the influence of one or several different recreational drugs while listening to the album, but that isn’t me, so I’m going in alone under my own influence.
I enter and I’m treated to a tune clearly designed to get me in the mood to let it all hang out. These must be the “Rotten Egg Hot Springs” I’ve heard so much about. A steady pulse from hand-slapped drums keep a pace while what I think is a sitar strums periodically in waves. Soon some unknown vocals come out of nowhere, a poppy new rhythm is introduced, and I realize I have no idea what’s happening right now. Did someone put something in my drink? About halfway through the song everything drops off except for drums and scant mumbling, giving me some time to think about what just happened. Just one minute into the first track and I’m panicking because these sounds are not what I’m normally used to. Suddenly I decide that if I I’m going to survive this experience, I will have to go with this flow. Maybe my friends are right. Maybe I’m too uptight and need to unwind. Adopting a strict mindset of only good vibes from here on out, I psyche myself up just in time for the sitars and strange vocals to come back in. Only this time I’m expecting them. Maybe there’s a reason people listen to this and I just need to chill out, man. I begin to approve of what I’m hearing and understand that this is therapeutic. I just wish I could’ve skipped all that fright at the beginning. Maybe that’s the “rotten egg” part.
As I pour the rotten egg water out of my ears a new sound forms. This one is whimsical but the slightest bit sinister. God, why didn’t I come here with a friend? Remembering to relax, I let the beat ride on (as I’m powerless here) and let Gimpheart do the talking. “I want to be the one you want to see every single night.” We just met, but I think I’m about what he’s saying. The lyrics here are mocking the simplicity of pop music lyrics. That would explain the happy pop music vibe mixed with the feeling that I’m in Bowser’s castle. No, wait, it can’t be that simple. I need to stop analyzing and just relax. “Cheers to This Feeling” is a bouncy tune, whatever that means. I feel like the instrumentation would not work as well without the choir of Gimpheart’s telling me what they want. Pop music’s purpose is usually to make people happy or horny, but Gimpheart is doing something eerie with the formula here. Hmm. I guess it is pop music after all, as I’m starting to get happy, alright. All music eventually drops off and all that is heard are noises that sound like chirping birds. I’m not trying to say my favorite part is the credits, but I enjoy the ending as much as the rest of the song.
The birds take their respective shits and depart in “Wonderful,” a song dedicated to the word “wonderful.” Although I did not particularly love the vocals on this track, I’m down with Gimpheart so far. His style is refreshing to me. We often forget that although pop music is popular music, there are many pop artists that are still unrecognized and not being played on the radio every waking minute. Gimpheart captures that pop sound while still modifying the track enough to where it’s not ridiculously upbeat and happy. Gimpheart is also very active in his songs. He’s not just laying vocals over a beat that’s copied and pasted. There’s clearly experimentation occurring here. I’m glad I stopped worrying and learned to calm down enough to enjoy this album. Better not get too into it though, or I won’t be able to make it home by myself.
“No Applause for the Drones” puts me on edge. The atmosphere is a “bad trip.” Is that why they call it? Asking for a friend. It’s relieving that there is no clear subject or theme to this album, unless there is and I’m too “faded” to realize it. Is that what they call it? Asking for a friend. So far it just seems like the artist made some music that’s easy to listen to. This album doesn’t pack a huge punch, it doesn’t demand your attention, but it’s a comfortable and safe album that will walk you home at night and not ask for a favor in return. Thanks, Gimpheart.
The album isn’t completely devoid of emotion, however. “Sad Songs Are Playing at My House” is bluesy and possibly Gimpheart’s way of letting us know that his life isn’t actually perfect. A portion of the hook “You sit on your lazy ass all day” is distributed in a nagging tone and this could very well be something that was said to Gimpheart at some point, his response being “Where are my friends?” Again, it’s a simple lyric that doesn’t need to go into detail because we all get it. Say what you will about pop music, but at least there are no impossible riddles in it designed to hurt your brain. Even if the artist’s intention is not realized by the audience, the emotion is usually clear enough for everyone to boogie along. What I’m saying is my ass is covered if I completely missed Gimpheart’s point. The addition of a verse by MC/DC works well with the beat. A loose guitar can add a lot to an otherwise bare track, and Gimpheart lays it out very nicely.
“Seeing You at the Bottom of the Ocean” is an unexplainably fitting end to the album. It just sounds like the ending of something. I don’t know if the title is a bad thing. I would imagine seeing someone at the bottom of the ocean would be either scary or bad news, but the bubbly tone of the song makes me think it’s less of a tragedy and more of a “Hey, I saw you at the bottom of the ocean. I waved at you but I don’t think you saw me,” kind of thing.
I feel like I know Gimpheart a little bit better now. He seems nice and I approve of this album. I’m going to be listening to this album frequently. Some pop songs are best used for dancing, some for working out, and some are even used to cry alone. Gimpheart makes pop music to exist to. With only six songs on “The Gimpheart Tapes, Vol. 2” there is a surprisingly broad spectrum of sounds that you’ll either be indifferent to or play repeatedly. I doubt everyone will be into it, but it’s good loafing music. Loafing can mean relaxing or making bread, it’s up to you, Merriam-Webster hasn’t claimed it yet. There might even be a blaring activity most people would do while listening to this album that I’ve failed to point out, but I don’t do drugs, so I would not know. I flipped out upon entering this album because I do not seek this type of sound, but it helps to explore new musical genres every now and then. The worst thing that could happen is I’ll overdose or find something I don’t like, but guys, there’s this cool thing called volume control where you can just mute anything you don’t like instead of posting about how much you don’t like it. I think I’ll go listen to the first volume of the Gimpheart Tapes just to see if I missed anything I might enjoy. After this experience, I’ll try anything once.