Casey Chandler is battling disillusionment with his country. The American artist who works under the name Galapaghost titled his album — and the lead single that you can hear above — after the nightclub in which a tragic shooting took place last year; an event that set off a chain reaction of his uncertainty in humanity. Pulse is Galapaghost’s second release and follows 2016’s I Never Arrived. Both albums find strength in walking the line between humorous and somber tones — both albums work with introspection and branch out.
Pulse, Chandler claims, is not a political album. While there are clear nods to the political situation in America (“The American Dream (One Nightmare At A Time)” in a pointed example), the album is more easily taken as an exploration of self. “Woke Up On The Wrong Side Of The Earth Today” explores this with an Americana guitar line and the lyrics, “I know that life isn’t long, and I should just do what I want, but I don’t want to end up forty years old with nothing to show.” The darkness of “Bleed” delves into the emotional complexities of a relationship and works with steady rhythm and buzzy guitars as one of the heaviest track on the album.
Another heavy track, of course, is “Pulse” itself, which captures the sense of pain and turmoil that pervades the album. When the beat drops, it feels as though reality is pouring in, and Chandler takes on the point of view of a killer.
Balancing the spice of these moments of sincerity, Galapaghost includes some of his signature moments of frustration-based-humour. “Analog Wasteland” uses electronic music to decry a world becoming increasingly addicted to technology. The nip of frustration returns on the catchy “Saudade (Interstate Death Song)” which locks into humour as survival with the lyrics “And I think I’ll die when my laugh subsides.”
The most beautiful moments on the album come at the end, and form between them a pair. Both named for European towns, (Pulse was recorded in Italy, where Chandler has been living), the tracks use delicate acoustic guitar to create a warmth. “Obidos” is melancholic and sweet, while “Pinerolo” makes cheers for the events that have brought us to happiness. The pair make for an optimistic end to an album that works through struggles.