On his sophomore record, Orca, Gus Dapperton leaves behind themes of heartbreak, instead navigating pain and suffering, and the path to healing and redemption. Dapperton began working on the album whilst touring throughout 2018 on the back of his debut record, Where Polly People Go to Read. The adrenaline of performing live paired with the hardships of life on the road took its toll on the singer. These experiences formed the conceptual basis and exploration on Orca., feelings of depression, being trapped and unconditional love woven into an outstanding alternative soundscape.
Whilst the record is thematically less universally relatable to wider audiences, the musicians knack for storytelling and evocative lyrics provide a vulnerable space where listeners can tap into each track and find a piece to grasp. The piano-led track, Medicine, is a powerful and solemn song that navigates self-destructive behaviour. The melodic, yet sombre First Aid shows Dapperton’s vulnerability, with the song focusing on the singers own self-perception and mental state. The track also navigates the relationship between Dapperton and his sister and collaborator, Amadelle, who also provides vocals on the song.
Dapperton is a master of creating happy and upbeat soundscapes, paired with darker and vulnerable lyricism. The albums opener Bottle Opener utilises plucked guitar with a swelling string arrangement, whilst the singer sings of the arduous nature of bottling up ones emotions. On Post Humorous, Dapperton’s playful and blazing vocal performance juxtaposes the tracks storyline of a person who treats life as a joke and death as a triumph. The exhilarating track is one of the most exciting releases of the year.
On his latest single Bluebird, Dapperton tackles feelings of anxiety and coming to terms with mortality. Again, pairing more serious themes lyrically with a lighter soundscape, the track is driven by an upbeat piano and bass. On My Say So, the singer enlists Australian singer Chela, working together in perfect unison to create a beautifully crafted track. Slow burners Antidotes and Grim work in unison on the records second half, shifting the soundscape to a slower, pulled back production. Swan Song takes the titles phrase quite literally. The albums closer metaphorically navigates death.
Orca is an ambitious body of work which expertly highlights Dapperton’s skill as a vocalist and songwriter. Euphoric and introspective, Dapperton produced the album himself, bringing on Spike Stent on mixing duties. Sitting at 10 songs, there is a comforting feeling to the poignant record, yet also exhilarating. His signature growling vocals and effortless, yet meticulously crafted production shine from start to finish. More self-reflective than his previous releases, Dapperton has created one of the years most exhilarating and vulnerable releases.
Orca is out now!