Image from GUMS! Bandcamp Page
Written by Ljubinko Zivkovic
There are so many ways in which musicians can use the so-called “retrospective” albums, but three is the minimum that could usually dominate. One is to show off their most commercially successful material (usually, the record company has a say in that), the other is to present the songs that are dearest to their heart, and the third is to try to track down and show their development through a certain period of time.
While the first two albums are the luxury of those that really made it or don’t really need to care, the third is the option mostly reserved for artists that need to show how they have developed and that take stock to see where they go from that point and really make it.
That seems to be the case with the Scottish pop collective, GUMS!, who have recently come up with Flats. It serves in retrospect to what they have done from their inception in 2012 until 2016. Although there isn’t a clear date attached to any of the titles, you can certainly see, where the group that boasts three vocalists came from, what inspires it, and maybe guess the direction in which they are going.
One of the influences GUMS! cite are the Sheffield greats Pulp and their mailman Jarvis Cocker. You could understand that influence from the introductory track Two Girls with the Same Name. But instead of sticking closely to this inspirational line, GUMS! seem to be touching quite a few other Pop/Rock points, the main being the connection with the Fifties Rock sound (“Christina Gallagher”) and late Seventies/early Eighties Punk/New Wave sound (Dancing In Your Room), with an underlying reference to the early version of XTC.
Of course, the group doesn’t skip on some obvious Scottish references like Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura (I’m Still Awake) and manage to do ‘the sound’ proud. Along with all that, GUMS! try to add tongue-in-cheek to their lyrics that serve their songs quite well. The interchanging vocals just add an additional set of varying tones to their sound.
What you do get a sense of is that the band is still actively searching for their true personal voice, but Flats as a retrospective album indicates they are on the way of finding their voice.
Ljubinko Zivkovic is an active Freelance Writer and Copywriter. You can check out more of his content on his Medium page at (https://medium.com/@zivljub).