While Expwy may be dead, Matt LeGroulx and Ian Jarvis are still at it with their synth-pop project Galaxius Mons. And while their first trip to the synthesizers was compelling, GMO raises the bar several notches.
Similar to what Pick a Piper did on their masterful eponymous record, the guys have recruited a slew of guest singers, mostly from Montreal with the exception of Calgary’s Samantha Savage Smith.
As a result, the songs of GMO take on all new kinds of life. The project is still very much a Matt LeGroulx-fronted one, with the usual titles like “The Earth moved in quarter tone silent waves,” and it’s refreshing to hear his unique lyrics sung by artists like YlangYlang and Tamara Sandor.
Opener “Outweigh the pillared masts” makes a hell of a first impression—as video-game-like synths open, the song features both Anna Elbon, who does main vocal duties, as well as YouYourself&i, who gets a nice part toward the end. From then on, the “dance” vibes go up quite a bit.
“Controller Down” is easily one of the strongest song on the album thanks to the saxophones and trumpets from Adam O’Callaghan, Laurent Menard and Chris Brophy, in addition to Jef Barbara on vocals. It’s groovy, it’s catchy and it’s addictive. Ditto “Firestorm,” featuring Ambrose. It paints a beautiful lyrical picture (fire is the key, of course) and has lyrics like “Spark your skin, melting light, ambient wind, turning sight.” The chorus adds another dimension to the song for a nice vocal contrast.
The album has its fair share of slow jams too—perhaps the greatest is “Making out with the shadows (I am a bad machine)” with vocals from Year of Glad. The kind of breathy, sensual vocals go well with the gentle electronics and lyrics like “I am a bad machine/Living in a public dream.”
GMO hits three home runs in a row starting with “Snow Globe,” with the exceptional talent of Tamara Sandor on vocals. She showcases a wide range of high notes, making the song sound like it could fit into Triple Gangers’ repertoire. “Seven wolves chewed through my flesh (Frozen little arrows)” keeps the forward momentum going with equally groovy synths, this time with Samantha Savage Smith taking the reins. And “Halo Moons” once again paints vivid images with the help of Annie Shaw. “I fill my lungs with vapor trails/And climb through the air, my fingers shook” just seems to make perfect sense amidst the bass-ier backing tracks.
Like all excellent albums, GMO feels like it’s over far too soon, but hey, what’s stopping you from putting it on repeat?
Top Tracks: “Controller Down”; “Firestorm”
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) +*swoop*