One Step Behind is further proof that Garcia Peoples is one of the fastest evolving groups of our era, constantly expanding their sonic horizons quicker than they can be captured on record. This, their third full-length since August 2018, perhaps shows the furthest extremes of the band’s spectrum.
The slamming cosmic jam that is the 30+ minute title track finds the band perfectly replicating the boundless scorching energy of their live sound, while also exploring a vast multitude of different musical directions and flavors. From mesmerizing kosmische soundscapes to melody-driven psych-pop and Hawkwind-esque sax-infused astral freak outs—this suite has it all.
The band—here expanded into a sextet—sounds wilder and more unpredictable than ever. One moment, you’re being lured close by a haunting reverb-saturated sax solo (provided by Tom Malach’s father, Bob Malach), and you’re being shot into the stars by juggernaut dual guitars and frenetic keys the next. Every turn is a total surprise.
The final section of this track (the last three minutes or so) is a great example of this. GP and the elder Malach operate like a hive mind, staying closely in sync despite keeping their pedal to the metal the whole time. Most bands would be faltering and petering out by the end of a half-hour jam, yet Garcia Peoples completely defy the odds. They’re on fire all of the way through, and bring the track to a satisfyingly explosive conclusion.
From here, the band cools things down with the somber “Heart and Soul.” While a slow ballad might not be the most obvious choice to follow up a grand epic like “One Step Behind,” GP somehow makes it work. It acts as a palate cleanser; something to aid in the energetic and emotional come down of the previous track. By god, and what a beautiful one it is, too.
Echoing my sentiment from earlier, this is an avenue of GP’s sound that is being explored on record for the first time. While the band has conjured up introspectively melancholic moods like this one before, they’ve never explicitly submerged into them quite like this. Yet they do so with grace, finesse and, of course a little psychedelia.
The heartbroken tune begins straightforward enough, centering around just piano and vocals. At this point, the song bears some similarities to a confessional singer-songwriter record, like something by Taylor Goldsmith. Yet, a dark prog instrumental section takes hold, taking the song into dreamy Procol Harum-like territories. Complete with flute and Richard Wright-ian synth atmospherics, this section pulls the listener into an internal world of drugged confusion and phantasmal disconnection. After some time, the vocals emerge again; stating that the singer is now coming to terms with the root of the song’s pain, and resolution is within sight.
Fans of the first two records will have their minds blown by what they hear on One Step Behind. Now the only question that remains is, where will Garcia Peoples possibly go to from here?
You can still pre-order this album from Beyond Beyond is Beyond right here.
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