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Album Review

Indeed the band's fifth album, counting the Introducing compilation, Gorky 5 continues the band's slow evolution towards quietly elegant sweetness as its key artistic drive instead of frazzled, insane psychedelia. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this was the last full album John Lawrence appeared on, and while his wiggy touches are still clearly heard — lead-off track "The Tidal Wave" has a series of heavy freakout instrumental breaks to its credit, for instance — Gorky 5 is even gentler than Barafundle in the end. In a slightly ironic touch, the songs Lawrence himself contributes are among the sweetest the group ever did, though "Softly" does build up along its length into a bit of gently intense drama reminiscent of songs on Amber Gambler. At points it's almost too sleepy, perhaps, with plenty of calm and admittedly truly pretty moments (Lawrence's "Not Yet" is a particularly good example, an instrumental that sounds like it should soundtrack a perfect early summer gloaming in the country) that can blend into each other. In the end, though, the quintet's overall aesthetic of winsome playfulness and genius arranging — Gorwel Owen once again helps the band produce — makes it a worthy listen. "Let's Get Together (In Our Minds)" and "Sweet Johnny" both made good choices for singles, the former a tearjerker folk psych winner that was actually the group's final major-label release, the latter a nicely freaky, nervous rocker a bit in the Roxy Music vein. Most amusing song on the album — "Theme From Gorky 5 (Russian Song)," which does indeed sound like a slow building traditional Slavic folk/dance tune while also playing off the unintentional associations of the band's name. In the odd coincidence sphere, Lawrence's song "Tsunami" has nothing to do with fellow Welsh band the Manic Street Preachers' own song by that name, also released that year.

Biography

Formed: 1990

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Sounding like a bizarrely sweet and whimsical cross between progressive rock, psychedelia, and pure pop, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci were one of the most original and distinctive bands to emerge from the vital post-Brit-pop Welsh scene of the mid-'90s. Gorky's music followed unconventional time signatures and structures, as well as instrumentation (boasting everything from droning moog synthesizers to slurring trombones and steel guitars) and melodic patterns. Furthermore, the band's lyrics were rarely...
Full Bio