After releasing an excellent garage punk album for Burger Records in the beginning of 2013, Gap Dream returned near the end of the year with another album, Shine Your Light, that was just as fun and tuneful, but had a very different sound. Trading in the fuzzy psych and jangling guitars for a sleek and relatively sparse synth-driven approach, Gap Dream's sole owner/operator Gabriel Fulvimar has crafted a kind of low rent, woozily stoned Moroder-on-the-beach album that retains all the weirdness of his debut but ramps up the songwriting and adds some nice atmosphere. It's a mix of styles that works surprisingly well, especially because Fulvimar dials back any semblance of rocking out in favor of hitting his chill spot, as referenced in the one of the best songs on the record "Chill Spot," and staying there until the end. Layering warm vintage synths over simple, laid-back beats and tossing in some weedily chugging guitars from time to time, he keeps things very simple throughout. No rave-ups or breakdowns come crashing in to disturb the mood; no fast songs, eitherl just midtempo, sometimes almost funky, songs with Fulvimar's charmingly nasal and untrained vocals dropping science about hitting the beach and basically trying to live a relaxed life despite things like talkative girlfriends, loneliness, and bummer trips getting in the way. It may sound like an underwhelming formula, and in the wrong hands it would likely result in a snoozer of a record, but in Gap Dream's case, it's quite compelling. Within the overarching mood the album sets so well, there are moments of pop brilliance, on bubbling sun-kissed tracks like "Shine Your Light" or "Fantastic Sam," and times when the gently unfolding ballads (the slow motion quiet storm "Snow Your Love" or the majestic "Come Home") reach out through the smoky haze and come close to replicating emotions. No matter the mood and subtle variation in sound, Fulvimar is in full control at all times, and while some may miss the garage punk style of the first album, Shine Your Light is an impressive change-up that will thrill those who stick around.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra