A (or 2/2 Unnecessary Silent Vowels)
Before we begin, I have two tasks--first of all, please proceed to Gayngs' Wikipedia page. Read the first few paragraphs. Now, I dare you not to immediately like this band, based just on those few bits of information. There are so many things to like! 23 musicians (including Justin Vernon (SWOON) and a rapper (classic combination of things?)), check; the entire band dressed as "prom" for their first show, check; the Onion liked it and we're suddenly taking the Onion seriously (?), check; they not only did a cover song but a cover video (something Take Cover could look into!), check. Check!
Now that we've got a predisposed bias in favor of the band, we're ready to face the music. To make things easy, Gayngs takes everything about Justin Vernon that could have made you fall asleep and turns the beat up a few notches and back a few decades--from "smooth and sonorous" to "big, harmonic 80's boogie." The album is huge, and lovely, the kind of album that fills a listener up with sound and warmth. This sounds trite, but I'm not kidding, the album is, metaphorically speaking, the Grand Canyon in an elephant's ribcage.
The 23 band members surprisingly don't end up tripping over each other--but their respective influences do shine through in bits and pieces from song to song. "The Walker"--who knew gunshots could, well, fit into a soft rock piece without making me fall out of my office chair? Hats off to Rhymesayers' influence. "Spanish Platinum" is kind of Twin Sister-esque spacey, no doubt Solid Gold's influence. I couldn't even hate "No Sweat" despite the presence of a saxophone (and I have a vendetta against saxophones and 80's music in general). I could go on, but I'll end it here by saying the best thing about the album is that there's something to like about every song, and that there's no telling which one will be my favorite on any given day. My favorite game recently has been playing a "Where's Waldo" of sorts with the list of musicians--can you find the Andrew Bird contributor's influence shine through in any of the tracks? Anyone? Please, keep the surprises coming, Gayngs.