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Top Ten Albums of 2020 - 4. Gengahr - Sanctuary
Counting down our favourite albums of 2020. At number four, London quartet Gengahr deliver darker doses of their signature psychedelic dreampop.
Made up of four friends from their school days, Gengahr, taking their name from a Pokémon, attracted some serious attention back in 2015 following the release of their debut album A Dream Outside.
The record led to backing from BBC radio and earned a review from The Clash labelling them the 'saviours of British guitar music'.
This was followed by their 2018 sophomore album Where Wildness Grows, another record that received mostly positive reviews across music critics and fans alike.
The two years that followed their second album and 2020's release Sanctuary were particularly difficult for frontman Felix Bushe. Bushe's mother passed away over this period, whilst his then girlfriend, now wife, had to return to her native Australia upon the expiration of her visa.
This, as Bushe puts it lightly, 'rough patch', led to a more personal and, in some places, darker record than fans had witnessed in comparison to the bands first two efforts.
Speaking to NME, Bushe noted he had the chance to 'go down a rabbit hole' when writing Sanctuary, thus creating something truly heartfelt and, despite the negative influences, offers signs promise and hope.
Opening track 'Everything & More', like much of the album, takes inspiration from the Ancient Greek epic poem Odyssey, by Homer, with Bushe explaining that Greek myths "aren't just stories from the past", they are as relevant today as they ever were.
The following nine tracks are a sensory journey that takes the listener through the deep emotions of human sensibility.
'Heavenly Maybe' is perhaps the most energetic song on the record. Its funkiness has a different kind of uplift that isn't present on the rest of the album and is a rare 'sing-along' track that resembles disco crossed indie-pop.
Never A Low blends deep bass with compatible drums to tell the story of going off the rails and not being able to find your way back on track. "Given up and that's fine / So out of control, out of control" Bushe repeats, a glaring insight into the darkest corners of our own minds.
The highlight of the B-Side is 'Icarus', a Coldplay-esc jangly piano opening slowly bursts into another shimmering pop chorus which will see you competing with to try and match the notes of Bushe's unique singing style.
The thing that is so beautiful about Gengahr's Sanctuary is how intensely personal yet somehow deeply relatable it is. The quartet have captured intimate feelings and created something that can be shared amongst anyone.
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