|Album Review: Galantis – Pharmacy|
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New York, NY
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After Galantis released "Smile" back in 2013, excitement over the act's new take on dance music started brewing. And it wasn't long after that with the release of their sophomore hit single, "you" that the guys behind it hit a gold mine, selling out shows and going on tour with barely any releases under their belt. It was then with their performance at Coachella in 2014 and the later release of their self-titled EP that the Galantis pot boiled to overflowing with the public getting a real sense of their unique, intimate live energy, poppy, happy-go-lucky progressive house and their plain talent at production. This week, we've finally gotten one of the most hyped albums of 2015 delivered to us, in the form of Galantis's 13-track Pharmacy which was released via the duo's longtime home base, Big Beat Records. After a listen, it's easy to make the quick anecdote that Pharmacy isn't necessarily about glorifying yesterday's album format, but showing Galantis's understanding of both dance music and pop music, without alienating any fans along the way (but rather gaining them).
It's no secret that the guys behind Galantis are veterans in music, either, with Christian Karlsson's experience in electronic pop group Miike Snow and Linus Eklöw's electronic dance music alter ego Style of Eye. But the sound they've created as Galantis can be attributed to that experience, creating music so unique that it's able to stand away from the pack in an era where progressive pop house tracks are a dime a dozen. In album form, that hit-making ability comes through way above expectations.
The shoe-ins on the album are their already big hits that you can hear just about everywhere at this point: "Gold Dust," "Runaway (U & I)," "You," and more recently, "Peanut Butter Jelly." The latter relaunched fans' excitement for the album, moving from the poppy, melody-fueled vocal jams we'd heard before and into groovier house territory. It was our first introduction to one of many of Galantis's other production style sides, and what a big entry it had. One thing is surely present throughout all of the tracks, whatever the style, is the infectiousness of the melody.
Pharmacy begins in familiar territory: uplifting vocal tracks. "Forever Tonight" is quite a track to set the tone of the album's energy with, with late 00's and early '10's inspired chord progressions and classic little bits of chopping and screwing of the vocals. Following "Gold Dust" is "In My Head," which successfully brings in that single chord progressive melody from the early 2010's that inspired so many of us to fall in love with dance music in the first place.
After one of the duo's most well-known tracks, "Runaway (U & I)," comes what could be the best part of the album. The tracks are intricate and out of Galantis's usual box. "Dancin' To The Beat Of A Broken Heart" has a level of emotion we usually don't see form the guys, starting out down and addressing a depressing theme with a tone that is reflected in the melody of the song itself.
Then comes "Louder, Harder, Better." A return to the uplifting we know from Galantis, its' still something totally different than what we have gotten from them in the past. The tech-y chopping and reconstructing of the synth melody is totally entrancing, and the lighthearted female vocals really tie everything all together.
"Kill 'Em With The Love" actually has a male vocal, accentuating a track that returns to radio-level play for Galantis. This one will either hit the radio waves or be remixed over and over, you just wait. "Firebird" falls in that camp as well, with chances of it being their next single being at the top of the ranks.
For some of the lack of nuance in the ebb and flow between songs in the album listening experience, Galantis deserves a some credit for closing out Pharmacy on a high note. "Water" shows stellar production, focusing of course on chords and piano, but in a more subtle way than some of the other tracks. With vocals done just as artfully, it's a well-rounded note to end on.