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Rikard Sjoblom’s Gungfly: Friendship

Friendship is the third album in as many years from ex-Beardfish man Rikard Sjoblom and his Gunglfy. Inspired by childhood friendships, pondering on those good times from the past and wondering where those young friends have grown up and moved on to, Friendship is an emotional journey of self examination and the kind of deep melancholy that yearning, or at least fixating, on ‘days gone by’ can evoke. Musically, at times, it’s Sjoblom heading into fiery territory, and yet this is still undoubtedly an album that stamps down hard with the trademarks this multi-instrumentalist and vocalist has already laid claim to. Opening blast, “Ghost Of Vanity”, begins with a deep, warm, fuzzy melody line that builds into a wall of crashing cymbals, thumped drums and staccato piano. When the Hammond organ swirls into gear - Sjoblom, quite satisfyingly allows the spin and hum of the instrument to precede its first actual notes - the main-man offers a more crazed, angry vocal than we’ve heard from him in quite some time, the feel that this comes straight from the heart being unavoidable. A more overtly Spock’s Beard meets Genesis clash is rolled out for the title track, a rather spectacular musical display that blends the virtuosic nature of what’s being revealed here with the innate accessibility which runs through all of this man’s work; although the deep groove that plays through the middle-movement of the track does almost spiral into space rock.

Proving that a more straight up pop sheen is equally within Sjoblom’s grasp, “They Fade” is luscious, if heart tugging, as it lays down the foundation for “A Treehouse In A Glade”, where unexpected acoustic guitar and handclaps spark a Spanish feel, before the harpsichord like keys add a medieval air. Varied though this fare has all been to here, if there’s one slight niggle that I can’t quite shake off, it’s that with the quick fire nature of Gunglfy’s three post-Beardfish albums, quite a lot of what is on show here does feel a little interchangeable with the material on those other two recent releases. But then, if that’s the only complaint I can find, Sjoblom must be doing something right. And to be fair the upbeat 60s pop gone prog of “Stone Cold” does hit a little from left field through a more blatant slap of energy and a sublime soloing section where thrumming bass works neatly off stinging electric guitar and poignant piano.

Friendship, to me, may not really move the Gungfly sound on from Sjoblom’s two other recent albums under that banner and yet it undoubtedly confirms his talent as both song writer and musician. The results are engaging without ever being compromised by simplicity, while the intrigue that has peppered all of this musician’s work is still plainly in evidence. Will future albums throw a few more curve balls to confound expectations? Well that remains to be seen. But no matter what course Gungfly is headed, if the results are as convincing as this, then it won’t really matter one way or another.

Track Listing
1. Ghost of Vanity
2. Friendship
3. They Fade
4. A Treehouse in a Glade
5. Stone Cold
6. If You Fall, Pt. 2
7. Crown of Leaves
8. Slow Dancer (Bonus Track)
9. Past Generation (Bonus Track)
10. Friendship (Utopian Radio Edit) (Bonus Track)

Added: November 16th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Friendship @ InsideOut
Hits: 834
Language: english

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