Gabrielle Smith’s music has always been personal no matter what her project is named. Even with a fairly long list of contributors – ranging from her usual band of keyboardist/guitarist Oliver Kalb (Bellows), bassist Jack Greenleaf (Sharpless) and drummer Felix Walworth (Told Slant) as well as contributions from Alex Bleeker (Real Estate), Greta Kline (Frankie Cosmos), Luke Jenner (the Rapture) among others, plus being mixed and engineered by Carlos Hernandez and Julien Fader (Ava Luna) – Beast on Beast still feels like a window into Smith’s world. Thus, the name change to Gabby’s World is quite fitting.

And while it’s personal, Smith’s music is always warm and inviting. Smith’s voice floats and soars throughout the record, whether it’s a slow, beautiful track like the title track or a fast-paced rocker like “Rear View”. Beast on Beast contrasts between the soft and the loud throughout. For instance, the absolutely flooring “Ode” merges into the fun, loud “I Get You”, but the transition is phenomenally executed change. The contrast can even be felt within a song like “Capable”, which has some of the record’s most serious lyrics but sounds quite playful.

There are also so many amazing musical moments on Beast on Beast, such as the cutting guitar on “Body” or the breakdown during “Tour Mate Sex Dream” that goes into an amazing ending to the song. There are tons of little touches throughout the record that add so much to each song, and that is what makes Beast on Beast one of the year’s best.

Beast on Beast was released on Yellow K Records, and it is also available on Bandcamp.

To review the first 25 of our Favorite Albums of 2018, click here.

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