Apropos is the sophomore effort by a band that for all intents and purposes no longer exists. It’s a swan song for Heaven’s Gateway Drugs Version 1.1. Since recording Apropos last December the Fort Wayne psych/freak cooperative have cocooned themselves and have re-emerged a new kind of freaky beast. Three of the five original members have slipped into the ether, leaving guitarist/vocalist Derek Mauger and band shaman Ben Carr to plant seeds and grow new members from the Holy ground that lines the murky St. Joseph river. The results of these changes? What will Heaven’s Gateway Drugs Version 2.1 sound like? We will have to wait for that. For now, let’s raise a glass to what was, shall we?
First things first, Apropos sounds like an album made by a band that has learned a few things since they first started making music back in 2012. Nearly everyone in the band played in other bands so there’s no newbies here, but it takes awhile to lock in with the guys(or gals) you play with. CPF Cassette was a rough and gritty beginning with the vibe of some flea market find in an oil-stained cardboard box that you guffaw at on the drive home, wondering how you’d never heard these guys before. Last April saw their debut full-length We Are Heaven’s Gateway Drugs. While a solid effort and beautifully-produced, it lacked some of the gritty fire and mystery of that short run cassette release. Apropos is the culmination of time on the road, festival dates, and general touring grit under the fingernails. “Read Between The Lines” has the swagger of the Kinks in 1967. A paisley-covered track that ebbs and flows between light-headed glee and oxygen-deprived madness. “Gone To Ground” sounds like a highway death trip, much like something more ominous found on that first cassette. The Black Angels abide. “Apropos” is a hallucinogenic pop track that is catchy as hell and has a piano line that brings the Kinks’ excellent “Do You Remember Walter” to mind. Piano is a welcome addition to the HGD sound. A full-time keyboardist would be tops. “Hate/Love” is another pop gem. Mellotron guides the technicolor track through some excellent Zombies territory before making a detour with some Ennio Morricone vibes in a spaghetti western guitar riff. “What It’s Like To Die” has a druggy, desert death trip vibe courtesy of some jangly guitar and an ominous riff. “Fall Back Down Again” benefits from some wonky drums and a fuzzy riff that helps to make the faux British accent and Doors-like organ sound even more sinister than they really are.
In a way, this album is bittersweet. Knowing this Heaven’s Gateway Drugs no longer exists makes how good Apropos is a little sad. The thought of what these five guys could’ve done next will echo in fans heads every time they hit play on this album. Still, it’s a hell of a swan song for version 1.1. Looking forward to what Mauger, Carr, and their new freaky friends have in store for us in the future. In the meantime, get freaky with Apropos.
8.2 out of 10