The Chicago-area rock group Ganser have injected metaphysical malaise with a strangely invigorating, even danceable quality on their instantly immersive new album, Just Look At That Sky, which is available now via Felte Records.
Ganser’s songs hinge on a punching sense of post-punk melody that’s performed with the wavering ferocity of classic noise rock. They’ve made a sense of driving melody front-and-center across their sprawling creation, but they’ve kept up the emotionally sincere rawness of cutting-edge punk, and it’s an all-around invigorating listening experience.
Apart from the memorably contemplative and frequently cathartically blunt lyrics, the music itself on Just Look At That Sky feels like it’s telling a rather immersively captivating story. This metaphorical story feels like it hinges on the travails of someone who’s downtrodden but not willing to give up their fighting spirit just yet, as if the music’s central perspective is that of someone trying to pick up the pieces of the interpersonal fragmentation that technology and other aspects of modernity have helped facilitate.
For example, on “Self Service,” which appears early on the album as its second track, the components of the band’s sound — all of which feel quite richly developed — seem sprawling yet closely connected by a guiding melodic energy. At times, the bright flashes of guitar riffing, deeply resonating bass groove, and loosely danceable drum rhythms hit melodic beats that feel quite similar, and there’s even (at least on this track) somewhat of a krautrock vibe as the melodies repeatedly surge and retract.
The textures of the music feel invitingly ragged at times, but Ganser don’t stop there. They further enliven their songs with this consistently propulsive energy, as if some of the music on the new album captures a musical portrait of the emotional state of someone who’s trying to drag themselves home after an exhausting day.
Listening through Just Look At That Sky feels like a startlingly “real” experience of lurching along through the ups and downs of struggling to hang onto a sense of guiding purpose. Seriously — the music’s sincerity feels striking, thanks in no small part thanks to the rich texture that Ganser have packed in alongside their propulsive energy, and it’s difficult if not impossible to avoid getting swept along in this enrapturing album.
On “Projector,” which feels a bit more restrained although no less punching in terms of its groove, the band’s Nadia Garofalo sings in an anxious yet detached tone: “It’s so profound/ How nothing matters/ Let’s talk about/ Nebulous weather/ A climate of catastrophes/ That’ll never get better.” These lyrics seem to aptly sum up the mood across much of the album, but the band don’t sound stuck — via highlights from the passionate dynamic swings on “Told You So” to the subtly triumphant-sounding melody on the album’s closer, “Bags For Life,” the band sound like they’re hacking out a place for a real sense of humanity amidst the world’s mess.