A sleepy life of sea and surf didn’t prove enough for the Gunns’ brainchild, guitarist Clinton Oliver. Back when the band from Fremantle took their first breath in 2011, they were Oliver’s bit on the side when he wasn’t playing with The Growl. But as he riled in some troops, and began by experimenting the possibilities of drum samples and a fuzz pedal, what began life as a bedroom-recording project was nurtured into complex mesh of genres: lo-fi pop, steeped in beachy vibes and reverb drenched, but with a grungy edge that’s earned them the moniker ‘beachgaze’.
Shoegaze has a sunny new sister, beachgaze, and Gunns are the helm of the ship, taking charge with gobs of lo-fi fuzz, reverb and sanguine disposition.
As part of the notoriously overlapping circle of Perth musicians, Gunns has seen their lineup shift over the years, notably with appearances and exits from Oliver’s bandmates in other musical projects The Growl and HAMJAM, the latter of whom Gunns put out a split 7” with in 2014. What is ever present throughout the band’s history though, are their ties to the elements: song titles are peppered with references to the sea and the sky: 2013 saw two-track EPs Leaving Home and Live By The Sea, and Gunn’s latest EP is titled She’s A Rainbow. And in this latest record, it’s the elements, plus the themes of love and youthful infatuation, theories regarding the end of the world and the shadows cast by old friendships, which Gunns explore.
Title track She’s A Rainbow is awash in buzzy reverb and silky harmonies, ushered along by the pitter patter of drums, lyrics that wind their way intensely into your brain and a mashed up guitar riff that turns into one hell of a solo, before shrugging effortlessly back into sunny melodies.
Death Of The Sun is definitive of Gunns’ ability to sound shift, delving through an impressive array of genres throughout its seven or so minutes of life, yet never losing focus. It starts off slow and considered, taking the time to breathe tantalisingly between each sparkling, warped chord, which unfurl into reverberation. There are some great rasping vocals in there, though eventually, it’s more a chance to tout their instrumental skills, with sprawling melodies that climax into another of those crashing, distorted guitar solos you could get lost in for days. The tail end, chilled out and lo-fi, feeds into Velvet Girl, which straddles dreamy surf with grunge, replete with swoony nostalgic lyrics, layering shimmering swirls of sound over a snarling guitar and just enough reverb to add bite.
Who’s Gonna Be Your Dog kicks it right back as perfect beachside listening, blistering with garagey, surf rock vibes, but still nudging in a grungier note, with a killer, experimental guitar hammering in addictive riffs. And The Fool encapsulates a clever manipulation of distortion, with melodies almost tripping over themselves, inducing the kind of fuzz that makes you want to wipe out on a beach towel in sunstroke-laced haze and just immerse yourself in it.
And ultimately, that’s their wish: songs that make you feel good. Next up? Accompanying Albert Hammond, Jr. on his first ever headline tour of Australia, playing four dates across the country this month, which they’re following up by supporting San Cisco, whom they toured with back in 2014, for the WA’s new summer concert series Sunset Sounds. We’re pretty excited.
She’s A Rainbow is out 12 February via Spinning Top. Gunns are on tour, supporting Albert Hammond, Jr at the following:
16 February – The Gov, Adelaide
17 February – Wooly Mammoth, Brisbane
19 February – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
21 February – Corner Hotel, Melbourne