Gus Dapperton continues to earn his place in the bedroom pop/indie scene with his 2020 sophomore full length Orca, a continuation to his 2019 full length LP debut Where Polly People Go to Read as well as to his single “Prune, You Talk Funny” and feature “Somewhere.” Not shying away from making a whimsical pop album to both dance to and sulk to, Orca is the epitome of today’s online laptop-and-keyboard generation of music.
On many of the tracks, we see Gus experimenting in similar ways to Where Polly…, such as the use of a xylophone or acoustic guitar with nothing more than a bare beat layed down behind it. There isn’t a lot sonically that isn’t him: most instruments are there just to keep rhythm and do not have any other place on the album, stretching thin on the diversity that the record offers. Skipping to any part of one song sounds just like the others. Many times the full playthrough takes on the feeling of sitting in the backseat of a car on a long drive.
Many songs, however, evoke the feeling of loneliness. This album is mainly just him, with little focus to be paid to the instrumentation. Orca feels like much of what our early quarantine emotions were: singing by yourself in your room. Many of us had to cope with the loneliness by self-soothing; perfectly reflecting the cover art. Indeed, the cover art is very similar to Where Polly People Go to Read, except it is significantly darker. Both feature a headshot of the artist, though Orca has Gus Dapperton’s face and bright red hair pop against the background. The light shining on the artist’s face with a pale blue background matches Dapperton’s vocals on top of what feels like “background noise.”
The high point of the whole album is, for better or worse, the consistency. No songs dragged out, extended, or over developed. Each track naturally builds up and slows down to pass the baton of relaxed energy going. While each song earned its place on the track listing, many blend into each other on the back half of the album, feeling forgettable.
I hadn’t noticed at some points when one song ended and the next started. Some songs, such as “Post Humorous,” are ready to be breakout hits and absolutely dominate alternative radio. Even so, it almost feels like each is nothing more than a stepping stone for a more sophisticated sound that has yet to be developed.
Listening to this album was a frustrating experience. There is no doubt that Gus Dapperton can create good music and will continue to do so. But he continues to make the same nostalgic sound all the way through the album. I hope to see him breakout with expanding his sound and pushing himself out of his comfort zone with new instruments, distortions, and deeper layers into his songs.
Best Tracks: “Bottle Opener”, “My Say So”
Article By: Peter Clarke