Album Review: The Gift – Explode – 5 Stars

So our Cinderella story of the day, coming out of far left field to win it all is “The Gift”.  The band consisting of Sónia Tavares, Nuno and John Gonçalves and Miguel Ribeiro, and hailing from Alcobaça, Portugal, deliver one of the best and most interesting albums of 2011. Though initially starting off simply as a side project back in 1994, they have been receiving wide recognition since their first full length album, Vinyl, in 1998.

The band has come a long way from their humble beginnings, playing their first show at the Alcobaça Monastery in July 1995, and finally make their jump across the waters to our North American market. Having shared the stage with such bands as “Arcade Fire” and “The Flaming Lips”, it is no surprise that they bring an indie feel to their music, but add a unique psychedelic twist to stand apart.

Their newest album, Explode, was first released on their website, and has since then been making waves in the industry. It beautifully mixes instrumental sounds with those of synthesizers, and creates a very unique compilation of long epics, and short ballads that tickle all your fancies.

Tracklist:

1. Let It Be By Me
2. Made For You
3. RGB
4. Mermaid Song
5. The Singles
6. Primavera
7. Aquatica
8. My Sun
9. Suit Full Of Colours
10. Race Is Long
11. Always Better If You Wait For The Sunrise
12. The Mother Of My Mother (Bonus Track)

Sound Bites:

Right from the very start, the album treads on new ground. The deeply synthesized and distorted opening track, Let It Be By Me, mixes the two along with melodic drumming to create a risky but exciting introduction to this newest album.

Teaming up with new duo “Lucas/Lukas”, formed by two young actors Lukas Haas and Isabel Lucas, Made For You, is as exciting and uplifting as a song can get. Lyrics such as the following explain it all:

“Trust, I will always be there, waiting for your love…Trust in the beauty inside, trust the name Explode…Trust the colours of the rainboys, even if it’s dark…Trust in the photos you did and the ones outside…Trust in people, religions, and all their hopes…Trust in the meaning of life, this can only be love…Trust the friends that we share, and the ones we don’t…Trust in me, trust in you…Over and over and over”

One of the most intriguing songs on the album is The Singles, a 12 min plus track that seems to traverse decades as its musical roller coaster goes on a time traveling epic. Reminiscent of “Queen” and “MGMT”, it mixes upbeat 60’s with 80’s trance and transitions between them with inspired musical precision.

Finishing off the album is Always Better If You Wait For The Sunrise; one of the best ending songs in an album that I have heard in a long time. The deep brooding start moves to a contemplative, emotional feel with beautiful and meaningfully gorgeous lyrics. The song addresses that even in the darkest of darks, you can always find a light. Definitely one of the best songs on the album.

From its impressive and shockingly colorful cover art, to the attention grabbing songs within in it, this album is really something special. “The Gift” has been getting better and better with each album they release, and having finally made the jump to the North American market, only bigger and better things can be expected. The are very DIY, financing their recordings and performance, which are a dazzling spectacle to all in the audience, and this commitment to their craft is a nice breath of fresh air. Definitely a band to keep your eye on for the future, and in the mean time, definitely one of the best albums of 2011. 5 Stars!!!

 

 

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