Gengahr’s ‘Sanctuary’ is an emotional, expansive album that taunts the band’s potential

Gengahr’s ‘Sanctuary’ is an emotional, expansive album that taunts the band’s potential

Pic: Jay Whitehead
Words by Leland Tan

The North London rockers are well on their way.

In compressing what feels like a flurry of lifetimes and infinite personalities, one of North London’s shinier outfits re-emerges as franchisers of the emotional spectrum.

In their latest brew, Sanctuary, Gengahr employs longtime amigo Jack Steadman (of Bombay Bicycle Club) to assist in the album’s sonic exploration. It’s extensions like this, as well as choosing to record fully independently, that sees tracks bounce between latencies without feeling all too gimmicky.

Take Steadman’s influence in overly darkened single ‘Atlas Please’, and the mid-album ‘You’re No Fun’. In the former, frontman Felix Bushe is severe, “Quit standing down a window ledge waiting … I know at times it’s dark/But you don’t have to take it so far”. Yet Steadman’s pop blessings shift the production’s melancholic dynamic altogether.

‘You’re No Fun’ has an edge faintly recognisable as fellow Brit rockers Local Natives or The Magic Gang, but sitting cutely as a palate curator rather than cleanser, it doesn’t fray into territories too close for comfort. The result is striking; light psychedelia is peppered with bloops and arresting guitar riffs throughout. Sanctuary is haunting but never in-your-face confrontational, and Bushe is often posing conundrums as opposed to fronting answers.

Treading breezy riffs and chunky layers, the band orbits temperatures and nooks fluently, oozing a courage that will keep their loyals pining for their magnum opus to come.