This is a review of "Do You See? Do You?" recorded by Galitza. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2004.
Drifting, as they do, in a special dimension of their own, Galitza pulsate on a separate cycle to the ones we can normally understand. Almost any idea that I use to start, continue or finish this review will be pointless and misleading. Words are never enough when the music is this good.
When the CD player stops, the room becomes empty and drab. When "Do You See? Do You?" is playing there's inspiration and delight. Serious surprises keep on jarring my "let’s get this review written" urge. Galitza will have nothing to do with the expected or the mediocre. They will not stand for quite good. They defy quick description. They will pepper their tunes with twists and spices that madden and delight. If it sounds like something you've heard before, they will mutate it or dump it. So don’t even try to write one of those shit two-bands-one-drug metaphors. Especially not "Think Pavement in a dress, having Yo La Tengo's baby on marmite sandwiches". The very thought makes me wince at the cackling laughter of friendly derision with which they would cut me dead. Just listen to it. Love it or piss off. It’s elite music simply because it’s better than the rest. Galitza can’t help it. It’s not their fault. You have to stop talking to listen to a band like Galitza. Every time I put the CD back on it stops me writing. There's too much to listen to for anything else to be possible.
Well, OK, yes, it's a band with the usual equipment. There are two nuzzling voices and plenty of tunes. Strong lyrics, clever variations and samples weave through economically taut instrumentation. Two guitars, some keyboards, a bass and drums. Louder bits, softer bits. Confident self assertion, fragile self doubt. All that. The rich quality of Stevie Gonzales's close-mic'ed voice is one many revelations on this first full album of Galitza material. There's genuine warmth and grown-up romance too. The full contents include a moody video for the very delicious "Rattle In Me"; nine completely new songs; and "Stargazers Know This Stuff" from the Wrath Super Sevens collection.
Whatever I write next, remember that Galitza are much more than you think they are. Their spluttering good humour and gently self-mocking stage banter and website make them seem cuddly and irreverent, but their music is deeply serious and honest stuff, so you might guess they are all broody and Beth Orton and you might slide their CD gently back into some indie dark hole of personal classification, never to emerge. Don’t do it. The songs are witty and exciting. Galitza do pop songs that switch lights on all over the building. Pull it back out and have another listen.
I was going to tell you that "Santiago" and "Trapeze" are the outstanding classics, huge in scope and exhilarating to listen to. But I think this might be one of those precious albums where friends might cherish different favourites. You'll love different ones.
"Trapeze" has me fizzing with joy at its stretched-out nighttime guitar and sugar-bubbled keyboard intro. It then goes into a supercool jazz duet thing that makes you go mmmm. "God's freaks of nature" has the most audience hugging chorus you could imagine. After a brutal rock opening that would turn the metal men rusty-green with envy, there's some song-like business that gradually surrenders to the mighty chorus "Lights Go Down On Everyone" which could go on for half an hour as the set-closer. "Ghost Song" has a great tune and passionately quiet singing. It’s about love. It makes me cry. "Time Traveller" has a glorious (unconscious?) tribute to the Byrds' "Eight Miles High" at the very end. Fabulous.
Thank goodness, too, for "Mini-bar" which is a bit like one of Stephn Malkmus's pirate stories, with kooky vocal "oh oh ohs" and quirky rhythms ... but with horses. There had to be horses. Talk about cheered-up. Emma Bob 3's big stage gimmick is that she smiles when she's happy. Which is pretty well all the way through a set. This song makes me smile a lot. Especially the melodramatiic horse/guitar duet part with thrashing drums.
What else do you want to know? Closing track "Night" is five and half minutes of massiveness. There's a lot of commanding bass doing dark things under Emma's dominant voice and the band make a huge din that cuts right out at the end leaving us feeling very lonely. Quick, put it back on. An exceptional album.