I just wasn't in on it. Gayngs, I mean. The joke band called Gayngs. As of Monday night I'd never heard of them, but perusing the Quietus' top 30 albums of the year so far, where Gayngs' Relayted places second—second!—I played the video for "Cry" and was actually moved by the song. I thought, this might be a band I really need to investigate. I was getting that sensation of having heard something really special. Here's the song:
- Gayngs: Cry
It's a beautiful song. But it's a joke. They're a joke. I mean, it doesn't really sound like a joke, right? The video, too, seems serious, even if visually it's basically a cross between Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U" and Michael Jackson's "Black or White." It's still a stark and dark video.
Here is the blurb that accompanied the Quietus ranking:
Relayted is an epic procession that hoves in and hoves out like a heavenly weatherfront, morphing from one track to another, never falling silent, never touching down, never deviating from around the 69 bpm mark.
Based on that description and the sound of that song, I was compelled to download the album right away.
Maybe you're picking up on my ultimate disappointment, "Cry" aside. It's true: Relayted is a shit album. I mean, it's a frustrating bag of shit.
It's the saxophone. Mostly, it's the saxophone. We're talking Kenny G levels of saxophone here. Kenny Gayngs? Also it's the occasional soul grunts from one of the singers, and the vocoder in one spot, and the rapping that approximates one of the Bone Thugs N Harmony guys doing a sex jam rap. In other words this is basically a soft rock album, usually a very 80s-ish soft rock album. Like, I guess all those references to "yacht rock" I saw on blogs a year or two back were describing something real? I never clicked the links. But so, people are actually aping the music tailor-made for dentists' offices? Fr'real? If someone comes along and starts citing Bruce Hornsby as an influence I'm going to shank him.
Worst of all though is that Relayted didn't have to be a shit album. Actually a lot of the album is close to being really good. It's got this twenty-first-century slow-core thing happening. It reminds me of Brightblack Morning Light but more melodic and slightly more dynamic. Every track on Relayted oozes at the same slow pace—let's say it actually is 69 bpm, since that probably came from a press release—and many songs flow into one another, so the album feels very much of a piece. It's one big monolith of a song, almost.
But in a gruesome act, Gayngs seem to have willfully murdered their possibly good or great album. The saxophone is like a hunter's knife stabbing away at this noble effort, killing it dead and disfiguring it to boot. Right away the opening song, "The Gaudy Side of Town," announces that Relayted promises to be horrendous. It's the silky sax, a sound so reprehensible that the album could hardly be expected to recover. But there are a few songs that get deep into a mood, much like "Cry," and I think maybe Gayngs could redeem themselves after all. And then the sax comes in, laying the track to the ground, lifeless and grotesque.
But it was a joke all along, see. It's my fault for bearing the pain of hearing this album. I complained about it on twitter and my friend Katie, who apparently knows the people in the band personally, responded, "you know they just got high and messed around and recorded that, right?" No, I didn't know this. Was I supposed to know this?
Later I learned that Bon Iver was in the band. Bon Iver, a songwriter whom I can't stand. That opinion is neither here nor there but I bring him up to point out that, with his presence, yeah, maybe I was supposed to know this. Maybe people have been aware of Gayngs all this time and knew it was a funny band that was doing beardo soft rock. Probably there was a youtube of a live show and probably there was an advance mp3 that wasn't "Cry" and probably some bloggers were hyping how rad the Gayngs concert was and, hey, Michael McDonald amiright? Eric Carmen! I'm funny for saying the words Eric Carmen! Hey everyone, "Theme from Arthur!"
Finally I fully realized that it's all on me. I'm the sucker. I saw a video of a recent live show—very well produced, documenting a very well-attended show. The video's very existence was a news item on... that website I asked us all not to talk about. So yeah, I'm last to know. Jokes on me. These guys are clearly having a laugh. It's a fluke I like "Cry." I should find some consolation that they didn't earnestly think they were making good decisions. Rather they are slathered in irony. That's consoling, right?