Gareth Emery strips back his high-energy sounds to bring listeners more alternative beats on his latest album, The Lasers!
Although Gareth Emery made a name for himself as a trance DJ, he’s far and away from only living in that realm of dance music. Over the years, he has championed the evolution of electronic music and made it clear that artists should always be challenging their sound, regardless of genre. Whether through his sets at festivals or past albums like Drive and 100 Reasons To Live, his own sound continues to evolve along with the experiences he brings to fans.
For his latest album, The Lasers, Gareth Emery creates a journey that matches the current mood of today’s current events while also bringing a personal touch more than ever before. The album is packed with fresh piano melodies from the man himself and gentle, wholesome vocals of Annabel. In fact, while his past albums have featured vocals from a variety of other artists, for this particular album, we get Annabel for nine tracks, and Emery even makes a guest appearance himself.
So what are you waiting for? Press play on Spotify below, download or stream the album on your favorite platform, and let’s dive into this review of The Lasers.
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Gareth Emery kicks off the album with “Prologue,” which really sets the mood for the journey we’re about to take.
The autotuned voice tells the listener “This is your new life, it’s made by you,” before taking a pause and continuing with “Welcome to your life, you’ll feel brand new.” I felt my mind tense up to the phrases. It’s almost chilling to hear considering we are currently living in a pandemic that continues to impact our daily lives with no end in sight. It’s a fairly short prologue that helps set up for the first full track, “Welcome To Your Life.”
Written by Emery and Anthony Galatis, the lyrics in the song stem from the “Prologue” and are sung by Emery himself. This song showcases his talented piano skills and the personal touch of him singing made the song even more special. It was a nice way to introduce listeners to him and Annabel.
Moving into “I Saw Your Face,” listeners are met with a more chill, house vibe.
“I Saw Your Face” opens with soft piano and the pleasant vocals of Annabel. As the song progresses, the energy picks up right along with it and the sound of synths along with a catchy bounce becomes the melody. One could even say that it’s more of a warmup song to help get bodies moving and ready to start dancing.
The next song, “St Mary’s,” starts off with the piano but fades out as the strumming of a guitar takes it’s place.
Based on the lyrics of the song, it’s pretty clear that Gareth is paying tribute to St. Mary’s, a suburb in Southampton, England where he was born. A place where he came from and will never forget that permeate the strong vocals from Annabel. As for the melody, it’s a soft tune with tropical house vibes, making it a good song to listen to as you take a stroll around the neighborhood or hang out by the pool.
Speaking of personal, “Little Celebrity” caught my ear with its nod to drum n bass and evocative lyrics. While it is not a full-on drum and bass song, it features elements from the genre with fantastic vocals to make it truly pop. As for the lyrics, my interpretation is that they center around a “little celebrity,” who “should have been grateful but wanted more.”
“Gunshots” arrives next, and it’s a tune that’s full of heavy lyrics and samples.
“Gunshots” is a descriptive song that undoubtedly references life in Los Angeles and how the gunshots are like “church bells all over town.” While the mood of the song is solemn, the trap-like sounds give it an edge that keeps it from becoming more of a ballad.
The lyrical section of “Gunshots” hit me hard emotionally as Annabel sings: “Your thoughts and your prayers will fade like the night.” A line that public figures often say in these trying times is “thoughts and prayers” to families who have lost someone to gun violence. A song with a rather hot button topic, this is sure to have fans talking.
The sad truth that lies in the lyrics of “Gunshots” transitions to the next song, “You’ll Be Ok” which provides a more hopeful tone.
While “You’ll Be Ok” was released in March, it was a coincidence that the official release arrived as the United States was going into shutdown. Many people, including myself, felt anxious about these uncertain times but this song brought hope. With its lyrics and driving melody, it reminded us that even while we have lost, we’ll be ok. While it became the song we needed, I didn’t find it as memorable as past songs like “Saving Light” or “Concrete Angel.” It’s stripped back compared to his other tunes, but the Giuseppe Ottaviani remix gave it a pulsating makeover.
Onward to “End of Days,” a song that reminded me of “Auld Lang Syne.”
“End of Days” begins by detailing what can be seen as a memory of two people about to take separate paths. It’s a sad song about both parties never reconciling but will care about each other “to the end of days.” Despite the sad lyrics, the song reminiscences about the past like “Auld Lang Syne” and features a rather upbeat, synthy melody with some kick drums.
As the album begins to wrap up, “Way To You” comes on and opens up with the strumming of a guitar. It’s a nice change from each song opening with the piano keys. Don’t be fooled, though, the lush sounds of the piano find their way back alongside electro-80s beats. It’s a short song that honestly felt a bit rushed, but fits into the album as a transition to the final song, “Elise.”
Gareth didn’t want to make just any tune to commemorate his second daughter, he put a lot of emotion into “Elise.”
The lyrics of the song detail a difficult moment in his life of being six thousand miles away from Elise, who was taken to the hospital suddenly. It documents the emotions and memories that flooded into Gareth’s mind in that panic of rushing to be there for her. While the melody sounded perfect, I felt the vocals could have been tuned better. Still, it’s a good track and wraps up the album nicely with a knowledge that he makes it to Elise in the end and that they’ll “all be alright, for forever.”
After listening to the album several times, The Lasers is one that’s good but felt lacking in some spots.
The Lasers is the type of album that you can press play and groove along with wherever you go. While some songs caught my attention, none of the tracks really had me craving a repeat listen. Going in, I understood that this would be a different album from Gareth Emery but I found myself looking for more creativity and energy.
Still, this album showcased a more stripped back version of Gareth that focused more on the fundamentals of a song rather than the layers of flashy sounds and samples. I always appreciate the chance to see the more “back to the basics side” of his work and can’t wait to see where he takes his sound next.
Gareth Emery – The Lasers – Tracklist:
- Welcome to your Life
- I Saw Your Face
- St. Mary’s
- Little Celebrity
- You’ll Be Okay
- End of Days
- Way To You