Review: Walter Etc. – ‘Gloom Cruise’
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Gloom Cruise is the debut LP from California/Oregon Alternative outfit, Walter Etc. Boasting ten tracks pulling influence from indie, power pop, and at times grunge and dream-pop, the record stands as testament of where the group is headed.
Compared to their 2017 EP, Always Leaving, the record shows off a deeper venture in grunge stylings with distorted guitars and bombastic drums, but also shows that the softer side of Walter Etc. remains. The record is warm and gives of a vibrancy that one feels at a beach on a comfortable summer’s day. It’s raw and wear’s its flaws proudly, but it’s rawness it where it’s charm lies.
Gloom Cruise opens with the eponymous track, and swings out of the gates with dissonance the dissolves into a lush guitar driven melody with vocals that are comfortable and catchy. The title track encapsulates the rest of the record. It’s soft and sincere, but bombastic and erratic as well.
Walter Etc., shows their musicality with “Dumb Angel” as it opens with a Samba-esque drum break and leads into the dancey-est song on the record. It’s catchy enough to not break your heart, but certainly carries some emotional weight in its chord progression and arrangement. It’s a perfect song to reflect on a summer as the days get shorter and nights grow colder.
The record shines in its most vulnerable and intimate moments. Songs like “Winter Shy” invoke a sense of sorrow and empathy for the struggling artist as they “hear it in [their] head, but [they] can’t play it.” It’s in these lyrics and melodies that the artistry of Walter Etc. shines and becomes more than a band writing goofy, light hearted songs.
Gloom Cruise is an enjoyable listen at face value. However, it lacks depth and the feeling of totality. At times, songs seem to just melt into one another with no rhyme or reason. There’s no sense of cohesion in the work, no over-arching theme or message to convey. They’re incredibly catchy tunes that are easy to throw on in the car and drive around to, but that’s about it. It’s in a purgatory where it can’t decide if it wants to be a power pop record or an indie record and often it shows with stark contrasts in sections of songs. But, it’s trying.
– Jacob Fishman