Teenage outfit Geese’s debut album, ‘Projector’, is an unpredictable thrill ride full of sonic and lyrical surprises. It’s an LP that is the stuff of legends.

“Potential”, “rising”, “upstart”, and “burgeoning” are adjectives that often accompany a band that recently graduated from high school. These words are used to denote that the outfit is on the cusp of something special, but they’re not quite there yet. With more experience to refine their craft, they could be called great. In the case of Geese, forget what might be because their future is now. With Projector, Cameron Winter (vocals, keyboard), Max Bassin (drums), Gus Green (guitar), Dominic DiGesu (bass), and Foster Hudson (guitar) have delivered not just the year’s most outstanding debut LP but one of the year’s very best. 

Projector is an unpredictable thrill ride that goes full throttle for minutes and then suddenly hits the brakes and then out of nowhere accelerates. When one expects it to roar, the band shift gears and dazzle and vice versa. This happens between and within songs, making the entire album full of wonderful surprises. 

The one-two punch of “First World Warrior” and “Disco” best reflects this shifting dynamic. At first resembling a lullaby that The Velvet Underground may create, the former transforms into a stunning, post-rock opus. As the dreamy brilliance of Bassin’s and Green’s glistening guitars embrace his wandering voice, Winter’s lyrics are Lou Reed-esque, as he describes the despair that lingers in the air.

“There ain’t nobody with a claim to kindness
You search forever, but you never find it
The house is breaking, but the land is timeless
There is no pain when there’s no hope”

Little time is given to staying in this sonic wonderland since “Disco” introduces another dimension. Coming in at just under 7 minutes, the track is a topsy-turvy yet exhilarating piece of manic chaos. The off-kilter post-punk intro gives way to a sweltering, jangly art-rock approach and shifting back to thrusting post-punk. The song’s turbulence is also reflected in Winter’s tale of two people falling on hard times. 

“I don’t care what you said about my friеnd
I don’t need to know if you’re struggling to breathe
You thrеw your drink at me as I was leaning in
But I still asked you if you wanted to leave
I talk to the mirror like I’m trying to start a fight
And you’re not scared of anger anymore
And I dance in an empty house”

Art-rock, neo-psychedelia, and art-punk tones swirl together on the funky and confident “Low Era”. It’s Talking Heads colliding with POND and OMNI – an off-kilter number that turns from quirky to icy cool. Beyond the great arrangement lies an incredibly creative story of a young man trying to make his way through life. Winter shares various vignettes of the protagonist’s world, singing about love, chance encounters, and broken dreams. His life also involves “Modern magazines and holy scriptures / My play rehearsals all go unheard”.

From the heavens to the demonic underground, Geese delve into a sinister world on “Projector”. The chiming, guttural tone of the post-punk guitar slices through the gloomy soundscape. This place could be the home of Hades or one’s self-imposed prison. For Geese, it is both, as Winter describes how the eyes  of his person demons watch every movement.

“Underneath the basement
I am the king of sensation
Following cicadas
Underground for another few years
Slowly as the glaciers
I crack my skull on the hard wooden corner
Even when I start to waver
You watch me dance, and catch my hands every time”

Even when the band go relatively straightforward, they still push the known into unexpected places. Opener “Rain Dance” resonates of ’90s math-punk, but with a bouncy as opposed to chaotic effect. The approach provides a terrific canvas for Winter’s story of a father’s apology to his son. Meanwhile, dance-punk is given an extra layer of Rolling Stones-esque grooviness on “Fantasies / Survival”, which is about, what else, a Bohemian serial killer. Even the album’s most simplest track, the Interpol-like “Bottle”, is given a quiet urgency instead of a raging anxiety. 

Just when Geese has done everything imaginable, they save their most wide-ranging number for last. “Opportunity is Knocking” changes mood, tone, and pace multiple times. It cannot be easily categorized since this unconventional number is part rocker, part charming pop, and a bit punky. The unpredictable approach represents the dystopia that exists in today’s upside-down world. While evil and horrors emerge, people dream about the last movie they saw. They are oblivious to their surroundings. “Oh, I look in the night, the night / Is this the end?, Winter asks as the songs draws to its conclusion. For some, their story is coming to an unceremonious end. For Geese, however, their legacy is just being written, and it is the stuff of legends. The stuff of greatness.

Geese again are: Cameron Winter (vocals, keyboard), Max Bassin (drums), Gus Green (guitar), Dominic DiGesu (bass), and Foster Hudson (guitar). Projector is out on Partisan Records and Play It Again Sam. Get / stream it at these links or directly on Bandcamp.

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