Origami Angel's Easycore-Inspired 'GAMI GANG' Is Pure Joy
Published Apr 30, 2021Now that the cult fandom of Origami Angel's breakout debut, Somewhere City, has positioned them as a leading emissary in the fifth wave of emo, the Washington, D.C.-based band has more than enough good will to go big on their second record. So that's what they've done.
With a title that affectionately nods to their fans, GAMI GANG is a bold move. It's a 20-track double album that mostly abides by the Barney Stinson philosophy on mixtapes: "get psyched." Almost all of the record's 50 minutes are dedicated to super-charged pop-punk ragers. While Somewhere City mixed youthful fun with wistful yearning, GAMI GANG is a pure joy factory. Just about every song is a high-grade shot of dopamine.
Next to the likes of Dogleg and Oso Oso, Origami Angel seem like the lovable goofballs of modern emo. The duo of vocalist/guitarist Ryland Heagy and drummer Pat Doherty have a rare ability to make music that sounds both tongue-in-cheek and intensely earnest. Their songs are sweet, frenzied little anthems for the introverts and sensitive-types.
Combining six years' worth of material, GAMI GANG is an explosion of ideas. Origami Angel combine skate-punk, power-pop and metalcore into something that resembles the "easycore" trend of the late 2000s — a subgenre of pop-punk that's even more embarrassing in hindsight than it was at the time. In reviving the idea, Origami Angel treat it with the playful, goofy-ass sensibility that it deserves, making them more likely to avoid being ruthlessly mocked.
"Self-Destruct" achieves the improbable feat of turning a panicky metal riff that sounds like Despised Icon into a sweetly satisfying pop chorus. Plucky little falsettos contrast with a chug-chug breakdown on "Tom Holland Oates." Thrash-and-grind drums mix with happy-go-lucky melodies on "Dr. Fondoom." When the hardcore buildup of "Isopropyl Alchemy" kicks into a major-key thump, it's bound to elicit a giggle and a "hell yeah."
Meanwhile, the band pull out all of their old tricks. These are songs about fun and friendship, with plenty of references to Pokemon, Gameboy, Star Trek and late nights of soft drinks and junk food. They pour one out for Eddie Van Halen with dizzying feats of guitar-tapping, and Heagy flexes his impressive ability to pack a ton of words into a catchy melody, the syllables flowing off his tongue with the effortless fluidity of Busta Rhymes on highlights like "You Won't" and the Brazilian-tinged "Bossa Nova Corps."
There's a lot going on in this roller coaster of a record. "Caught in the Moment" channels Four Year Strong, "/trust" folds in some Owen-style indie-folk, "[spoons rattling]" starts with trip-hop and takes a sudden turn into mosh-call hardcore, and "Footloose Cannonball Brothers" has the radio-friendly pop-rock grooves of Fountains of Wayne or Weezer. The wonderfully endearing "Neutrogena Spektor" sounds a bit like Pet Sounds plugged into a nuclear reactor with its relentlessly quick tempo and rapidfire rhymes (including "pterodactyl" with "asshole," which is awesome) before they tear it down into a metalcore beatdown à la Code Orange.
GAMI GANG is action-packed and relentlessly entertaining, and the band rips through 20 tracks with great efficiency. With so much happening, it's inevitably not as musically or thematically concise and poignant as Somewhere City. While that debut had a sad sense of nostalgia to go with its theme of "eternal youth and the promise of escape," GAMI GANG is entirely devoted to the rambunctiousness, adventurousness and uninhibited amusements of being young. As a punk album, it's like a room full of toys: You can pick up wherever you want and play for as long as you like, and you're bound to end up with a smile on your face. (Counter Intuitive Records)