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Gabriels recreate heaven in their image on Angels & Queens

"Angels & Queens"

Release date: 07 July 2023
Gabriels – Angels & Queens – Album Artwork
07 July 2023, 14:30 Written by Noah Barker

If given the choice between Mozart and producer Sounwave in a contest to see who could craft heavenly bodies within the auditory range, I’m going with the guy from Compton.

Angels & Queens, in its finally completed form after years of singles and EPs, is an ordained clinic in the producer-artist relationship – Gabriels have ideas and taste, they’re just in need of a musical midwife to bring them into fruition – and no producer in modern music has a reputation for sumptuous beauty like Kendrick Lamar collaborator Sounwave. In the drunken four-count opening to track “Blind,” vocalist Jacob Lusk can be heard inhaling in time with the snare, anticipating the next crisp hit of drum and piano: that’s an idea given its execution, a band flying high given its due treatment.

Demonstrating the roots and commonality between Soul, Gospel, Funk, R&B and Jazz, the trio capture the supernatural beauty inherent to all of these diverse styles of music, harnessing lightning like a creature to be set free. Even beyond the superb audio quality of every spare piano, guitar, hi-hat, and choir, Angels & Queens is a master stroke of emotional narrative, especially those found within music. Gabriels find its personality in bit-parts throughout their genre crusades; their confidence is funk, their mourning is gospel, their soul is soul.

The funky haze of the title track, the blues dirge of “Taboo,” and late-in-the-tracklist barnburners “Love and Hate in a Different Time” and “Glory,” are tracks shotgunning over each other leading into the fist-clenchingly tight finale. Even with a core section consisting of a ballad suite, the pacing is breakneck, as if some emotional force within even their down-tempo moments is propelling us forward. Recurring piano motifs and vocal performances aimed at making heaven develop tinnitus are mid-tracklist delights, exemplifying the virtue of playing it straight and loud.

In a record focused on earthly struggles and heavenly paradises, penultimate track “Great Wind” uses its gospel slant to refine its narrative; a tune about finding meaning in grief and the life after death begins solemn, but is picked up by organs and a choir shaking the Earth free from suffering. Suffering is matched by melodic ingenuity, our protagonist reminded of life by its auditory model. With sonics so extraordinarily ornate and a soul-stirring sentiment to match, three men and their producer have successfully taken the listening world to church, and left it there waiting for its next sermon.

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