There might not be a summer this year but Gizmo Varilla’s Out of the Darkness this album would certainly be a contender for the coveted “sound of the summer” spot. The album’s opening track Love Over Everything is great. It’s funky. It’s dense. It’s prime pop, although inevitably destined for a club remix. From there we segue into Born Again which switches between bassline-orientated narrative pop and a driven, determined toe-tapping ode.
Immediately we transition to smoky hums and Hozier-esque guitars with Rise. Gizmo Varillas (real name Guillermo Varillas Kortabarria) is talented enough to seem impatient, eager to melt into yet another genre or sound, obsessively keen to pick up another instrument or add another string to his bow. Saving Grace is a tribute to music itself. Proof, if any was required, that Gizmo Varillas is not only a connoisseur of music but a lover.
The intimidating variety gives the appearance of a collection of singles as opposed to an album. Writing’s On The Wall is the kind of single most bands would kill for; here it is just another song. Subtly orchestrated, it’s a musical buffet that will have listeners coming back for many courses.
Bella Flor, Danza De Sombras and A La Vida are all sung in Spanish because why leave any talent unused?
However, Varillas could be guilty of a more-is-more approach, as if the abundance of instrumental know-how is just compensating for the standard pop formula. By the time we reach the album’s back half, there is the feeling that these songs are just waiting to be covered. Or that Ed Sheeran might start guest rapping.
Regardless, this album’s qualities will still be evident to anyone looking for some decent background pop or a richly textured musical journey.
Out of the Darkness might take its name from the album’s final track but it’s also a sort of manifesto. This album belongs behind a glass case that reads “Break In Case Of Positivity”. Listening to something this musically sprawling and unrelentingly feel good is almost cruel in these strange and uncertain times, but if there was ever a musical indication of an upward trend, of hope, then this album is it.