Album Review: GL – Touch

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Every now and then, I get asked to DJ. It’s always heaps of fun for me, but it also sucks for everyone else there because they have to suffer through a ginger kid awkwardly fading between The Replacements and Dinosaur Jr. for hours on end, complete with long and arduous gaps of silence between each song as I attempt to figure out how the CD-J’s work.

The saving grace for these poor bastards locked in a room with me has always been GL. When all hope seems lost, and even half-priced rum ‘n’ cokes aren’t enough to enthrall even the most sturdy of boozehounds, I’ll drop some “Won’t You See” or “Grip”. Instantly, the room is a flourishing wetland of dancing figures and people that suddenly don’t hate my guts. They might not know the songs, but fuck me if folks can’t resist cutting shapes to GL. And who can blame ’em? This is boogie music, through and through!

After a few years of EP’s and singles, the duo of Graham Pogson and Ella Thompson have released their debut full-length. Never before have slap-bass, trickling synths and a drop-dead gorgeous voice been combined so effectively before – each song hits like a speeding train of propulsive rhythms and deadly pop.

The instrumentation of Touch sparkles with crystalline production, each synth burbling with a joyful soul and the bass riffs squelching with particular enthusiasm. Every time another bass slap rockets through the speakers, you can’t help but let out a little involuntary ‘Ooo!’!

However, the star of the show has to go to Ella Thompson’s vocals; her voice acts as a beacon amongst the thick production, summoning from the dance floor, a battle cry for the good times you risk missing out on if you ignore the call. Thompson has proved herself one of the best vocalists, doing time with everyone from Dorsal Fins to AXOLOTOL, but with GL, she delves into a well of talent, unleashing a full-blown pop powerhouse on songs like “Grip” and “Number One”.

There’s a reason why the music of GL goes off so well at my otherwise uneventful and uninspired DJ sets – they just know how to make really great pop music. This duo from Melbourne just ‘get’ it, the same way that Cyndi Lauper and Whitney Houston and Prince ‘got’ it. To do anything but allow yourself to become an obsessive disciple of their music is to deprive yourself of the best local pop band going around right now.

Touch is out now through Plastic World and Midnight Feature. Catch GL when they play Newtown Social on September 17th!

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New: GL – Grip

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Look, here’s the deal – GL are bloody perfect. They are as perfect as finding out that you and your Uber driver both share a love of Madonna, and busting out multiple renditions of “Like A Prayer” all the way back to your house, and the harmonising was so good that your Uber driver actually ends up giving you money.

Look, full disclosure – “Grip” isn’t in the same league as Madonna, but fuck they’re close, aren’t they? This is damn good music to gyrate a pelvis too! The duo of Ella Thompson and Graeme Pogson are fearsome, and they’ve just been pumping out consistent gem after the other, the kind that makes your lips involuntarily twitch in excitement over. “Grip” is just the latest, a song that begins with a throbbing bass, and jabs of sensual synths, before falling away to allow all of the room for Ella Thompson’s blatantly gorgeous voice. That’s the kind of voice that otherwise law-abiding citizens would commit vocal-chord robbery for. Seriously, can that woman be any more incredible? Can we nominate her as the supreme overlord of pop already?

Fucking hell, what a bunch of goddamn geniuses. If GL can repeat this sort of magnificence on the rest of that debut album they’ve got up their sleeves, that question of lords of pop fiefdom won’t be a rhetorical one on some shitty Sydney blog, it’s going to be the real fucking deal. ALL HAIL GL!

 

Video: Ella Thompson – I Go Over

Even with this hard punk exterior, I’ve got myself a soft spot for the pop side of things, none more so than when GL released their triple-threat of “Won’t You See”, “Take Me Back” and “What Happened To Us”, and Dorsal Fins’ dizzying “Monday, Tuesday”. So, when an integral part of both groups, Ella Thompson announces that she’s got solo work, well fuck mate, I gotta check it out!

Part Catcall, part Grimes, Ella Thompson makes smooth synth music that sparks like a frayed power cord. But instead of being the kind of thing that leads to a six month absence and workers comp, “I Go Over” is soulful and wholesome, a real revitalisation of pop music.

New: GL – What Happened To Us?

Although it doesn’t have that immediate pop electricity of their debut single, GL’s sophomore release is the kind of thing that’ll get fans of BANKS and FKA Twigs decapitating all who stand in their way when GL get around the releasing their EP. Although not entirely for me, this GL track does have some lovely squelchy synths and the vocals are spot fucking on. If GL and Collarbones make a track together, Australia’s electro/R&B scene will collapse under the web traffic.