Since his first few EPs, Gus Dapperton has embodied pop culture – in all its guises. From garnering internet fame across Tumblr in the early days and now on TikTok thanks to his feature on BENEE’s viral hit ‘Supalonely’, the bowl-cut-sporting New York musician is at the forefront of Gen Z subculture. It’s where anything goes, and he’s taking that in his stride.
Now with his sophomore album ‘Orca’ ready to share, his slacker-pop is less relatable storytelling and more of a cathartic insight into his vulnerabilities around touring in your early twenties. Usually an avid supporter of DIY-ing everything, it’s also Dapperton’s first foray into bringing onboard an outsider with Spike Stent (Frank Ocean, Lady Gaga) on mixing duties.
Despite being in new territory on all aspects of the record, it still harps back to his bedroom-pop roots. Take ‘Bottle Opener’, it’s in-keep with the jangly upbeat tunes that drew comparisons to Mac DeMarco and Her’s. Yet, it’s so clear in the darker, honest meaning behind its happy-go-lucky guitar plucks and romanticised strings accompaniment. Even the repetitive harmonies of “You never let them get to you / I always let them get to me” are so beautiful in their execution, but the sadness they leave behind is unavoidable.
Moments of ‘Orca’ have a good crack at filling 2020’s summer-shaped hole but is keen to remind that the good times don’t always roll. ‘Post Humorous’ is a bona-fide pop banger, but the devastating monologue of experiencing a death during childhood is almost overlooked with its bright, playful vocals. ‘First Aid’ and “Antidotes’ are more alike Cigarettes After Sex’ slow-burning pop, while ‘Grim’ falls into a country-meets-trip-pop amalgamation of its own. It’s a diverse collection to keep you on your toes.
The theme of self-destruction and addiction is most clear in the stripped back piano ballad ‘Medicine’. Revealed on Twitter as Dapperton’s favourite song to have ever made, it follows the story of someone who gets high off the process of healing. The passionate cries of “I always say I’ll get ahead of it / But every time they time try to fix me up / I get addicted to the medicine” are particularly stunning.
Despite falling deep into the toxicities the world has to offer, Gus Dapperton has come out on top. By confronting his vulnerabilities head on, he’s had a fresh start both musically and mentally. He isn’t alone in his feelings anymore; he’s got all of us on his side.
- Release date: September 18
- Record label: AWAL