There’s something ethereal and free-spirited about Gyan Rosling’s Burning Witches Records debut Embrace. The neon-eighties tilt, the airy synths, and the ‘Dance Party USA’-like percussive hits all come together like a swath of nostalgia that hit you direct in the face. Embrace is a time machine of an album that drops us right into 1986, when John Hughes was the king of the teen film, Reagan was vying for another term, and arcades were the place to find love, weed, and trouble all in one evening.
Gyan Rosling is the nom de plume of Conor Loughran, a young Irish artist based in Edinburgh. Loughran does come across in Gyan Rosling as a kid brother of sorts to Seth Haley’s Com Truise, albeit with less heft in the drums and with more of an air of optimism than the dystopian vibes of Haley’s long-running project. I guess this could be described as synth wave. There’s moments where you’re reminded of the more wistful moments of Le Matos’ Turbo Kid score, while others are very much radio-ready melody-filled pop tracks. It’s all very engrossing and Loughran never wastes a moment to move you.
“Reset” is an absolutely gorgeous album opener. Out of the gate you’re pulled into the world of Embrace with this great track’s melancholy lean and opening credits strength. Conor Loughran has the chops, both in writer and producer, to grab your attention with a pop melody. But it never sounds trite or disposable. There’s a weight to the energy here. Likewise with “Influx”, a very Le Matos-heavy track. It has a drive to it while never being heavy-handed. I could imagine this being both a dance floor track and a desert road trip jam. “Bliss” has all the makings of a club jam, but the melancholy of a song you’d put on a breakup mixtape.
Loughran’s deft sonic touches as Gyan Rosling come in handy to make the perfect pop song. A song that both moves you and drives you. A touch of the intellectual and the visceral. That’s what emotions are; a bit of the head and a bit of the heart. Something like “Fuschia” hits all the right notes, careening towards sunset vibes and endless possibilities, while album closer “Stoic” keeps things low key but always with a sense of longing in the peripheral.
Gyan Rosling’s Embrace is a light but heady cut of late summer longing and youthful beauty. In the times we currently reside, Embrace is just the musical distraction we need.
7.6 out of 10
‘Embrace’ is available now. Buy it here.