Sanctuary, the third, and finest album to date from North London alt-pop outfit Gengahr is the band’s most ambitious work yet. Produced by Bombay Bicycle Club’s Jack Steadman, these ten tracks give a glimpse into Felix Bushe’s personal pain in a way we’ve never heard before.
Sanctuary opens with the celestial synths of Everything & More, instantly demanding the attention with Bushe’s poignant, deeply personal lyrics and hypnotic vocals. From the off, it’s clear that this piece of work is the band’s most honest yet.
Atlas Please introduces the prominent bass which features throughout Sanctuary, picking up the tempo which that hooking chorus which has created so much excitement for this third album since its release as a single back in 2018. That rise in tempo flows through into Heavenly Maybe, which again wriggles it’s way firmly into the mind with a funky bass line and nod towards the band’s psych-pop roots as it details Felix’s phase of partying to distract from his real life problems.
On the surface, these tracks are fun, addictive slices of alt-pop, but it’s when learning of how Bushe cast himself as Odysseus while writing the album that the pain and melancholy shines through; marking it an even more impressive body of work.
In Never A Low that melancholy takes centre stage, alongside the track’s haunting drum beat, a theme which continues into the spoken, trippy two-minute long Fantasy; an almost interlude capable of giving its listener goosebumps.
Then, into the rampant beat of You’re No Fun, this third album feels a little bit ‘all over the place’, but it’s a feel that simply adds to the emotion and theme of Sanctuary. Each track comes with pleasant surprises, adding little thrills at unexpected moments.
Soaked In Formula gives a slight break from the heavy heartedness of the rest of the album, leaning into 80s influence with heavy synth work; while Anime’s blipped synth feels playful and free, despite its heavy lyrical content.
Penultimate track Icarus opens with a heavenly intro, that celestial synth of Everything & More returns with Felix’s notorious falsetto for an up-and-down track which sounds more like Gengahr than any other of Sanctuary’s ten tracks. It feels delightfully nostalgic, while simultaneously providing a proper glimpse of just how far the band have come.
Moonlight brings this third album to a blissful end; hinting towards a positive future with a luscious, harmonious story of union and togetherness.
Sanctuary is the album the world has been waiting for from Gengahr. These ten experimental tracks unleash all of the potential the four-piece have been holding over the years, resulting in a luscious, hypnotic and sometimes haunting body of work which genuinely impresses from start to finish.