Although maybe his name hasn’t been heard as much as people like Ariel Pink or John Maus recently, Gary War is a member of honour of a hypothetical pop version of the new weird America. A brotherhood that could also include people like James Ferraro or the transmissions of Not Not Fun and which is founded, among other things, on the search for new realities based on a fully self-aware nostalgia. In War’s case (his real name is Greg Dalton) this vision has evolved from the (very) lo-fi trippy pop of “New Raytheonport” (SHDWPLY Records, 2008) to the post-punk mutations awash in fuzz of “Horribles Parade” (Sacred Bones, 2009), to the industrial-leaning aftertaste of “Police Water” (Sacred Bones, 2010). It’s a career dominated by constants like psychedelics, fragmented structures always on the verge of chaos, Martian atmospheres, and increasingly synthetic inclinations. All of this, improved and refined, culminates now in this “Jared's Lot” released by Spectrum Spools.
If there is one thing that characterises War’s works, it’s a density that means that you have to listen to them several times to become fully aware of what is hidden within them. This time, nevertheless, there are some factors that differentiate this work from previous releases from the very first listen; the synthesizers have definitely won the battle over the guitars flooded with reverb, the production is more polished and the compositions have gained in conciseness and precision. If we add to all of this that this optimization hasn’t weakened the singularity of his distinctive sound universe one bit, then there can only be one verdict: we are looking at his most solid album to date.
Returning to the nostalgia that we spoke of at the beginning, “Jared's Lot” clearly looks back to the 80s. In general lines, the album could be understood as Gary War’s synth-pop album— rarefied synth-pop of the Gary Numan school, of course. Even so, considering production details and a variety of stylistic nuances, this definition is undoubtedly partial. In “Thousand Yard Stare”, the first cut, it sounds like John Maus possessed by demons, reaching moments of passionate intensity that are even greater than the Minnesota musician’s. This comparison is equally valid for the ceremonious “Find Our Way”. But as we had already mentioned, the album allows few generic categorisations, especially in transmissions as particular as “Advancements In Disgust”, which combines a comatose post-disco bass with sparks of wonky electronica and disturbed (and disturbing) vocals. This subversive spirit is also apparent in “World After”, in this case as if it were a lost, disfigured recording of The Zombies’ “Odessey And Oracle”. Affecting the play of contrasts, there is also space for compositions closer to rock, like the turbulent “Pleading For Annihilation”, in which the visceral quality inherent in his music reaches its peak. But if at the beginning of the paragraph we said that this was a synth-pop album, it’s because of songs like “Superlifer”, “Carefree” or the final cut, “Muscle Dysmorphia”, in which War seems to fuse the spirits of bands like Ultravox, Telex and Heaven 17 - reviving them from a twisted, alienated perspective, as if the synthetic future imagined by those bands had come to life in the form of a sick dystopia. To tell the truth, we don’t know for sure whether War’s vision seeks to relive the past, imagine the future, or whether it’s simply his interpretation of the chaotic present, but what is certain is that he had never manifested it as convincingly as in this album.