Gabe Gill is an undefinable, elusive artist out of Boston, Massachusetts, blurring lines between multiple genres, specialising in a hazy homegrown sound of distorted buzzy vocals and solemn guitars. Recording since 2018, an independently operating artist signed to Not Here Records (Deadmall, Honeyfitz, Can’t Lose Radio), developing an internet cult following that ascends his sleepy homecity, Gill became most notable for his 2022 album ‘How Memory Works’. A deeply intimate and innovative project that saw Gill deal lyrically with themes of normalised alcoholism and personal connection via a series of dreamlike songs, that read more like a novel than as merely catchy songs in a tracklist.
Gabe Gill now returns with an EP developed through sessions with new producers for the forthcoming sophomore album, titled ‘crickets’, and Indie Is Not A Genre was lucky enough to be granted early access to these songs.
The title track opens the project with pitched, paced vocals reminiscent of an early Dominic Fike, an influence that seems to carry on across the whole three tracks, with the simplistic, guitar pluck and drum driven, summery instrumentals that could accompany a warm twilight drive through the forest. Gabe Gill is one of those artists that can create such images, with a catalogue that has the ability to impose a sonic landscape upon the listener, provoking a mental image or a strong vibe in ways that others cannot. Artists with similar capabilities such Lorde, and Gotye, make a point of using this strength and work with producers capable of magnifying it, with powerhouse names like Rick Rubin and Jack Antonoff. Astonishingly for an artist of his calibre, due to a degree of lack of recognition, Gabe Gill does just that, enlisting the production finesse of Brasstracks, known for their works with Harry Styles (credits on Watermelon Sugar), Chance the Rapper (for which the duo won two Grammy’s), and the worldwide phenomenon of BTS. Brasstracks enable Gill to achieve his vision of a more “big-screen” product, a stark contrast to the mellow, soft-rock personification of the Gabe Gill brand audiences have come to expect off the back of his debut album ‘How Memory Works’, and all works previous to that.
This is done within crickets by pitch manipulation and wind-downs, before sudden tempo changes and great panning under tremulous layers pushing against one another, as is done halfway through the title track, where we are given a seemingly more typical presentation of Gabe Gill as the squirrely indie-pop vibe makes way for falsetto hum-singing for a short pocket of the song, before flipping the script yet again into a hyperpop/industrial lean to a catchy indie song, blurry low vocals mixing with the hums and swimming backing layers moving side to side like a curtain of smoke. The title track is undeniably an opening to a project, and wouldn’t stand as well on it’s own, but acting as it does in prologue to the more structured songs that fill out the EP, it does it’s own thing well, and lets you know early on not to expect what you already expect.
The second track, ‘Robbie’ sounds like Dominic Fike on a country song, with a similar Fike/Frank Ocean vocal performance and choursey backing layers, over a sunny, bright indie pop beat and frequent harmonica riffs adding that distinct western flavour. It progresses into that chanty speak-rap vocalisation artists like Fike and Kevin Abstract often exhibit, in tracks like Phonecalls.
‘Robbie’s gotta know/soon as it got cold you got allergic to the snow/oh oh oh/Robbie was a no/show/bro’‘Robbie’ (track 2)
Robbie is a subtle display of just how vocally capable the artist is, his clear and crips voice control shining through as the major appeal of the track, making for his most radio-friendly outing thus far.
Screensaver sounds like a stripped back B-side of his last album, with the dual vocal spread making up the lead driver of the piece, but with much less reverb and saturation he used to develop his signature sound. Lyrically, there are lines that wouldn’t seem out of place in a Noah Kahan track (when I’m stuck/I grit my teeth, my screensaver is staring at me/on repeat), and a stutter piano driven beat that could easily be adapted into a slower Brockhampton track with the addition of trap drums, circa Ginger era. This is another element Gill continues from his old works, which even he himself has said is best described as an indie rock/rap/distorted soul hybrid.
Gill described the EP as being built around “huge production shifts and dynamic changes”, and these function not only within themselves, but within his entire discography, making the EP feel like a tempo change within his catalogue the same way each song in the EP have their own unique shifts and turns. Unsurprisingly, Gill has previously listed acts like Bon Iver and James Blake as major inspirations for his works, but the clearly, less dreamy production quality of the crickets EP suggests his influences has strayed elsewhere, which is never a bad thing for an experimental artist. Gill proficiently bridges the gap between these two sounds in these three tracks, making sure not to leave every piece of himself behind, while still making something initially unrecognizable as Gabe Gill. Whether this means his next outing completes this cycle into more structured and consumable indie-pop, or if this pocket of bright landscapes and pop music with interesting sounds is an era of it’s own for the young Boston native. It’s very interesting how Gill’s endeavour into a more ‘mainstream’ appealing sound comes across as more experimental than his usual, experimental, sound.
Picture Tyler The Creator’s IGOR, with Harry’s styles producer, by a Boston alt pop guitar artist who grew up on Fiona Apple and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and you’ve got an idea of what crickets EP by Gabe Gill sounds like.
‘Cricket’s by Gabe Gill is available to stream and download on all platforms June 27th.