Release Date: May 11, 2010
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Rock, Dance, Alternative
At first glance, Relayted seems like a joke, a latterday album-length equivalent of the knowing cover versions with which indie bands used to pad out Peel Sessions: an album by a group of US alt-rock luminaries – Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and members of Digitata, Solid Gold and Megafaun among them – making a record in thrall to 10cc, 80s soft rock and R&B, replete with sax solos, on which every track proceeds at a stately 69 bpm, the speed at which I'm Not in Love went about its sultry business. But it turns out to be far more than a conceptual joke, digging deep into and expanding upon the (often inadvertent) aural weirdness of its source material. The results pitch beautifully crafted, poignant songs and heartfelt vocals against foggy, ethereal production.
Beware: this album is decadent and sprawling and playing it loud will get you beaten up by righteous indie fans. And it’s all the better for it. Apparently inspired by [b]Ryan Olsen[/b]’s passion for [b]10cc[/b]’s [b]‘I’m Not In Love’[/b], no record of the last two decades has so wholly rejected the status quo. [b]‘Relayted’[/b] is the soundtrack to being strung out in the back of a cab hurtling through a neon-lit city at 4am in 1983 looking for carefree thrills and sybaritic joys.
Gayngs' debut album -- and the whole reason for the existence of the group as such -- sometimes feels like an end result in search of a justification, but does so in attractive enough fashion, overseen by Ryan Olson with the help of Solid Gold members Zack Coulter and Adam Hurlburt. With 25 participating performers (credits include members of Megafaun, Bon Iver, and Rhymesayers, among others), a rule of a constant bpm per song (69), and stated inspiration resting in 10cc's still strangely wonderful art pop statement of hate "I'm Not in Love," Relayted revels from the start in its form-follows-function feeling, somewhere between exquisite corpse and soul revue for a bedroom setting. The slow flow established by the opening "The Gaudy Side of Town" and maintained by understated fragments tying together song for song dominates, but each individual piece brings up a different twist or turn, whether in something like the bold smack of the drums on "The Walker," the electro R&B meets clavinet funk moodiness of "Crystal Rope," or the synth pop sweetness of "Faded High.
Gayngs have got emotional baggage; they want you to feel what they’re feeling and they’ll convey it to you in whatever way works for you. It would be easy to classify Relayted as part of the Glo Fi movement, but it owes more to the new age of Enigma and the woozy jazz of early Portishead. While many atmospheric bands of late seem to shy away from any remotely commercial sounds, Gayngs have produced a record that let its melodic accessibility compliment its denser qualities.
Gripe about hipster irony all you want, but was there ever any point when the indie/punk underground wasn't dealing in smartassed self-parody? There have always been artists who find humor in making certain styles into grotesque caricatures and using them to point out the absurdity, or greatness, in a genre. The punchline works best when the setup's serious enough to work without it. The problem of irony comes when you're dealing with a setup that most people will probably mistake for the punchline itself.
Is it time to bring the sexxxy back? Gayngs thinks so. Ever since Prince purified himself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka, the American Midwest has played unlikely host to a style of music that belies its beers-n-burgers image. Sleek, sultry with a sand-blasted studio sound: the Minneapolis-based supergroup’s debut Relayted is all that and more. The second coming of the funk is inevitably a bit tongue-in-cheek.
Jorge Luis Borges, in his collection A Universal History of Infamy, offers brief, fictionalized accounts of extraordinary men who purport to be something other than what they are — and, more importantly, other than what they appear to be. One story, “The Improbable Impostor Tom Castro,” stands out as an example of breathtakingly brazen fraud. One man, in an act of nearly unfathomable chutzpah, claims to be the dead son of aristocratic family despite bearing absolutely no resemblance to their deceased heir.
10cc-loving collective delivers what might be the trip of the year. Andrzej Lukowski 2010 Gayngs represent a somewhat unlikely confluence of any number of recent musical trends, foremost amongst them the resurgence in hipness of such über-processed AOR acts as 10cc, Hall & Oates and Steely Dan. Indeed, producer Ryan Olson’s stated purpose when founding Gayngs (alongside Solid Gold’s Zack Coulter and Adam Hurlburt) was to create “a collection of drugged-up keyboards and slick bedroom production almost exclusively inspired by 10cc’s I’m Not in Love.