If there was anything that mesmerized me about last year’s We Built A Fire by Icelandic band Seabear, it was their ability to craft deep, heartfelt pop songs backed by heart-wrenching orchestral movements. At times their songs even come close to being upbeat. With Gem Club, upbeat isn’t an option. Like Seabear, Gem Club’s songs are orchestrated, but instead of percussion and guitars and full movements they focus solely on the strings of a cello and the keys of a piano. And they front the sounds these instruments make with wispy, longing vocals.
Acid And Everything opens with 50 seconds of minimalist sounds including a triangle and chirping birds in the song “[Birds]” before launching into the piano and strings of “Flax”. Their music is calming, soothing — an audible back-rub for the soul. The songs run together, not in a continuous manner but in a gentle transition with a soft fade out and subtle beginning. “Animals”, the song Gem Club has chosen as their single, is a bit heavier with a more consistent piano part and stronger harmony vocals. But it would still be considered light bedroom pop. “Spine” mixes it up, giving cello the downright haunting lead melody.
Gem Club is Christoper Barnes and Kristen Drymala, and what they’ve created with Acid And Everything is a mystical work of complete cathartic beauty. These songs will just as soon whisk you off into a tormented, emotive dreamscape as they will provide you respite upon your return to lucidity.