Gumshoe - Positive Sinking (Album Review)
Standout solo artist Gumshoe- a.k.a. Phil Hampson- has proved he can go the distance on new album ‘Positive Sinking’. His debut LP is out Monday March 15th, and available to pre-save now.
While the rest of us were baking banana bread and watching Tiger King, Gumshoe was getting busy. ‘Positive Sinking’ has been a passion project throughout the pandemic, and Hampson’s resourcefulness radiates in all aspects of the release. Speaking to The Lock In back in February, he revealed: “All the music production, writing, and performing was done by myself at home… the [album] artwork was…taken in my mum and dad’s old conservatory”. Gumshoe’s upcoming LP is a resounding home-made success (unlike many of those banana bread attempts).
Opening track ‘Mr Cruise Control’ is an impactful introduction to Gumshoe’s psychedelic-lounge-indie style. Initially, the song seems to just tick along at a leisurely pace. However, assertive vocals and artfully placed keys build drama in all the right places. Seamlessly moving from mellow to moody allows Gumshoe to explore real-world emotion through strange composition.
Following ‘Sayonara’- released as a single back in February- is ‘Heat’, an irresistibly catchy tune that injects attitude into the LP. The prominent bassline echoes the relentless indie rock of Foals, whom Hampson cites as an influence: “My production and songwriting tend to have lots of layers…Foals have an almost cinematic sound with all sorts of complex goings-on.”
Titular track ‘Positive Sinking’ is a pleasant instrumental that immerses the audience a little deeper in Gumshoe’s dream world. Gentle bubbles in the background conjure an image of Alice in Wonderland’s hookah-puffing Caterpillar.
Album closer ‘The Mental Wizard’ is a striking note to end on; its various elements work together as a musical exploration spanning multiple decades. The cinematic aspect present in the rest of the release is foregrounded, but the supporting layers act as subtle call-backs for the audience to pick up on. Husky voices in the background are reminiscent of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘Power of Love’. The build-up of electric guitar towards the finish also invokes the noughties indie angst of ‘Do Me a Favour’ by A.M., and ‘Farewell to the Fairground’ by White Lies.
If you’re not a seasoned psychedelic fan, the genre can be daunting; long riffs and creepy keys soon begin to grate. Although I enjoy the odd Tame Impala tune, I’ve witnessed many good parties being murdered by some self-proclaimed hippie commandeering the AUX and playing ‘I Am The Walrus’ on repeat.
Luckily, ‘Positive Sinking’ avoids peering too far into the abyss. Gumshoe has created an LP that plays like a beginner’s guide to psychedelic indie- and I mean that in the best way possible. Hampson subtly introduces elements of trip-pop and new wave to more mainstream indie-rock sounds, making ‘Positive Sinking’ an accessible listen. It’s not over-produced or unbearably commercial. Yet, the tracks aren’t surreal beyond comprehension and are grounded by their clever lyrics. Hampson’s skilful self-production has stopped the LP straying into tedious territory.
Gumshoe’s ‘Positive Sinking’ fuses psychedelic notes with toe-tapping beats, creating a dreamy, sun-drenched LP that will play perfectly at any post-lockdown celebration. Be prepared to don your dancing ‘Shoes!