After his debut full-length album “Where Polly People Go To Read” last year, Gus Dapperton received attention on apps like TikTok for his unique, guttural vocal style and fun, eccentric tracks. His newest album, “Orca,” finds him straying away from that niche and feels like he’s trying to find a style to call home.
“Orca” is a ten-track album written, produced and recorded by Dapperton himself. He describes this album as a representation of everyone’s ability to hurt, which strays from his usual category and comfort zone of love songs.
Dapperton’s art process and attention to detail are unlike any other artist I know. His attention to some tracks’ melodicism is astonishing, particularly in “Medicine” and “Post Humourous.” Listening to his album had my feelings all over the place.
The opening track “Bottle Opener” sounds optimistic with melodic guitar strings being plucked in the background, paired with the harmonizing vocals of Dapperton in the beginning, repeating the phrase “You never let them get to you.” The chorus ends with “I always let them get to me,” which signifies the album’s broader theme.
The album swivels through the struggles of youth and mental health. Dapperton puts his vulnerabilities on display for the world so that they may heal and find solace through his voice. While listeners may not relate to every song offered on the album, they may come to understand the lasting weight these wounds have on one’s shoulders.
It still feels like Dapperton is testing the waters with his musical direction. While the lyrics behind the songs are meaningful and capture plenty of feelings he wishes to encompass; some pieces are in rocky-waters.
“My Say So” is a great example. It’s a catchy song, but it can be hard to follow. A lot is going on between the overlapping of background vocals, harmonization of Dapperton and featured artist Chela and the rhythmic tapping of a Xylophone. While catchy, this is one of the weakest tracks on the album, and I felt the least attached to it after giving the album a few run-throughs.
Dapperton experiments with new styles after toying with old methods we saw in past EPs and his last album.
The song “Grim,” features the heavy beating of a guitar and drum. Dapperton hits you with his signature throaty vocals and harsh instrumentals straight off instead of waiting till later on in the track. It’s a fun approach, and is easily one of my favorites off of this album next to “Post Humourous” and “Medicine.”
The one song on this EP that blew me away was “Post Humourous.” The track was something I wasn’t expecting from Dapperton, at all. The song feels like he is just letting go and trying to pry away from different things holding him back. This summery, fast-paced song encapsulates what a lot of youth today is feeling: off-course and lost. Society puts a lot of weight on younger shoulders, which ends up leaving many feeling lost when they are thrown into the “real world.” I’m always pulled back to this song out of the rest from the album, and it’ll probably stay as my favorite song by him for a long time.
The album ends on “Swan Song.” The title itself is a metaphor for an ending piece. The final track is a fitting end to Dapperton’s sophomore album and leaves me wanting to hear more from him.
Dapperton lets us glimpse into his vulnerabilities and his growth as an artist. He’s becoming more comfortable with his voice, evident with the plethora of sing-song melodies and high notes pieced throughout almost all of the tracks featured on this album.
I wasn’t expecting the album to sound like “Where Polly People Go To Read,” and I’m happy I didn’t apply those expectations. This album provides listeners with a totally different experience and is unconnected from all of his other work. It makes me feel nostalgic, reminisce about my experiences thus far in life and look forward to the endless possibilities the future holds. I’m looking forward to what direction Dapperton moves to next after this album.