Saturday, 13 June 2009
Gary Go - Gary Go
released 25 May 2009 on Polydor
Firstly, a disclaimer. Music journalists, and particularly amateur music journalists, do what they do because they love music. Therefore, despite the fact that sometimes it may seem otherwise, we don’t want to write hatchet-job reviews all the time (however cathartic it may be). Ideally, we want the next undiscovered masterpiece to land in our lap so we can break out the superlatives and turn people on to something that’s really special. Then again, you can only work with what you’re given, so away we go.
Do you find One Republic a little bit too hedonistic and thrilling? Are The Fray a bit too rock n’ roll for your tastes? Does the very mention of Maroon 5 leave you cowering under your duvet because their music is just too damn terrifying? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, then good news - Gary Go is here for you! Fresh from supporting Take That on their recent tour, the man Q have described as a “one-man Coldplay” (though that’s being more than harsh on Chris Martin’s men) releases his début album.
Throughout the eleven (though it feels like many more) tracks that make up Gary Go, Gary demonstrates his mastery of soulless, vapid pop, apparently designed specifically as a bed for highlights packages on low-budget reality TV shows. Polished to the point of being nausea-inducing, this album has been packaged to a precise remit: robotic, stadium-rock-lite that follows the tried and tested formula of acoustic quiet bit, drums come in, second verse, chorus, repeat to fade so strictly that you’ll feel like banging your head against a brick wall and/or adding your own beat-box percussion.
All that isn’t even the worst thing; the vocals and lyrics are beyond awful. Gary Go strains his way through his songs with a voice dripping thick with false sincerity. What is probably intended to sound emotive and meaningful just comes across as, well, constipation to be brutally honest. Factor in lyrics that a schoolchild would baulk at if given them to sing in a school musical production and you have a recipe for possibly the worst album ever to be put on general release.
The album begins with Open Arms as Gary Go whines “whatever happened to truth?” and it’s all downhill from there. There are too many examples of pathetic pleased-with-itself, thinks-its-profound, cod-psychology within Gary Go to list here, but there are a few “highlights.” Today’s favourites are: “We are a miracle wrapped up in chemicals” (from Wonderful) and “I’m finding it hard to fill in the pros on my ‘Reasons for Living’ list” (from So-So, a kind of inferior version of the Goo Goo Dolls‘ Iris). When there’s a wealth of talent in music today plus an exhaustive back catalogue of riches you could immerse yourself in, it’s difficult to imagine who could lap up this rubbish.
After listening to Gary Go in its entirety, it’s not an exaggeration to say it’s more poisonous than anything to come out of the Simon Cowell stable of identikit svengali-controlled pop. It’d be preferable to listen to the soundtrack to High School Musical than this; at least Zac Eyebrows, Cordon Bleu and the girl who had naked pictures on the Internet serve up something which tries to be fun, bouncy and doesn’t take itself too seriously. After a few minutes of Gary Go’s morose, self-obsessed attempt at music, an hour of jumping around to choreographed dance routines with a fixed grin on your face is a much more attractive prospect.
It’s difficult to know what message Gary Go wants to send out with this LP. Half of the tracks are a rallying call-to-arms that a motivational speaker would find ridiculous and the other half are wallowing, boo-hoo-the-world-is-mean-sometimes mope-fests. For example, on Heart and Soul, Gary Go sings “Nothing will matter, nothing at all, if you don’t follow your heart and soul” but on the very next track (Speak), it’s “I’m sorry I spoke, I had all my eggs in one basket; it broke.” The belief that authenticity is all has led Gary Go to create eleven tracks of bland, contemptible music that’s little more than an exercise in lowest common denominator box-ticking.
So, you can probably tell that it’s recommended you don’t buy Gary Go, unless of course every day you wake up hopeful of a Daniel Powter comeback. Some of the orchestral arrangements are pretty listenable (the brass and strings on Brooklyn are certainly above-average) but that’s really clutching at straws. Gary Go is an unforgivably turgid album that is bad in practically every way imaginable.
Hey, you know what? That was cathartic.