Look, I'll admit that I hadn't heard of Cyrus Gengras until recently but you can bet that I'm going to keep following him from here forward. Ahead of Friday's drop of Fuckin' Up My Name on Death Records, I'm here to hip you a little bit to the superb indie of this cat.
The album features contributions from one member of The Babies, and Jessica Pratt, and others, but it's all Cyrus that makes this such a winner. Combining elements of artists as disparate as Tom Waits, Elliott Smith, and Badly Drawn Boy, Gengras makes affecting music that shines with a kind of quiet beauty, like on the Durutti Column-echoing "Don't Know Why". On the slightly folkier "It's About Time", there is a hint of Paul Westerberg about things proving the press material right to name-drop The Replacements. On the lyrical "Other Side", one can hear the trace of early Death Cab For Cutie, while lusher stuff like "Tiny Increments" has something about it that sounds like Nilsson to this listener. Elsewhere, on the downright catchy "Lover's Curse", Gengras seems to be simply stripping back a very classic sort of pop music to its basic elements. Fans of Bon Iver and Iron and Wine will probably dig this too but, frankly, it's not that kind of authenticity that Gengras is going for. On stuff like "Bad Dream Baby" and the peppy "Quite Alright", Cyrus seems to be aiming for the sort of skewed pop that bands like Gardens and Villas and The Cairo Gang have perfected lately. The legacy of stuff like Syd Barrett and Chris Bell is all over this album too but, really, Fuckin' Up My Name is purely the work of one wonderful musician despite the contributions on this record, and despite the shadow of some significant influences.
Cyrus Gengras has produced something distinctive and haunting here but he's done it without being too heavy about the whole thing. Fuckin' Up My Name by Cyrus Gengras offers highly melodic indie pop that charms on simple terms. That the melodies are so strong throughout this album helps to elevate this sort of thing above other releases in similar genres. Not a moment is wasted here and I can only wait to hear more from Cyrus Gengras.
[Photo: Shola Lawson]