GUM, Jay Watson’s moniker used for solo work outside of Pond and Tame Impala, has evolved a lot between his five albums. His earlier work is rougher, funkier, and occasionally muddled. As GUM has developed his sound, it has become far more immediate musically, and introspective lyrically. He has just released ‘Would It Pain You to See?’, a song with a meandering structure and some colourful instrumentation, the second single from his upcoming sixth album Saturnia.
In line with the progression of his work with Pond, his sound has become more polished, the production more clear, and the songwriting more intentional. The addition of a bright and delicate violin part to this single stands in stark contrast to the sounds of crusty synths and lo-fi guitars of earlier work.
The song was written during lockdown, in the company of his newborn son. It’s clear that the song is filled with existential contemplation – Watson says: “My songs are never really literal or with obvious meaning, but if I had to say what this one is about it would be the conflict of apathy and caring a lot about something, that’s inside all of us. It seems to be particularly confusing and crude in today’s day and age”.
Opening with a drum machine and some smooth lounging guitar chords, the song takes many turns as GUM’s vocal line wanders into unexpected places, and those chords and violin slowly shake off the lounge feel and build some tension. The last minute of the song is filled with a distorted and psychedelic guitar solo, proving GUM is still in love with those sounds from earlier in his career.
Something great about both Pond and GUM’s recent output is their ability to use blatantly old school sounds (think rubbery Beatles-esque bass, 1980’s drum machines, and glitzy synthesisers) and give them new homes in songs which go much further than pastiche or imitation. It’s always been easy to hear their love of the music where those sounds were first heard, but it’s always exciting to witness how they make those sounds their own, and create something uniquely theirs.
Words: Alex Wilson // Photo: Grant Spanier
‘Would It Pain You to See?’ is out now via Spinning Top Records, taken from forthcoming album ‘Saturnia’, out on September 15th. Stream the track here.