Just a year after the release of their debut album Yours Sincerely Dr Hardcore in 2012, Wrexham noiseniks Gallops split up. Three years later, almost to the day, they decided that the band still had more to do, and announced their return. Their time away has not been waster. Where Dr Hardcore was brittle and spiky and in debt to math rock experimentalism, Bronze Mystic feels weightier, more sure-footed and muscular.
Sonically the main shift has been from an angular, more guitar-focused sound to something with more of an electronic sheen. Mark Huckridge from the band puts some of this down to a house move. Apparently he now lives next to a car park where the “throbbing sub-bass of boy racers has helped inform the rhythmic ideas for the record”. This much is apparent from the start: ‘Shakma’ has real swagger throbbing away behind the plucked guitar and flickering electronics. The relative isolation of Wrexham from the bigger music scenes of the north means they’ve been free to experiment without much of an outside influence. This has led to the retro-futuristic sci fi and video game sounds of the likes of ‘Pale Force’ and ‘Graverobber’ giving the band more of an individual feel. Where their previous record felt like it fitted somewhat with a lot of instrumental, math rock bands, Bronze Mystic stands Gallops in a much more unique position. The album has more to do with Battles‘ more interesting moments than Foals‘ early work, whereas previously it felt like they were starting from the latter and straining for the former.
It’s an exciting development, and where most bands would struggle to deliver on such praise, Gallops exceed expectations. The album is packed with energy and ideas, the slow build of ‘Meta’ a highlight of an album full of them. Placid moments of Blade Runner-style soundscapes are intercut with jagged sparks of synth and thumping bass. There’s a lot to admire here, but just as importantly, a lot that you can dance to as well. And live they can deliver in spades, so don’t miss them. You’ll be hearing a lot more from Gallops if their newfound enthusiasm is anything to go on.
Bronze Mystic is released on 21 April on Blood & Biscuits.