Gaffa Tape Sandy – ‘Hold My Hand, God Damn It’

By Andy Joice

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again – The Brighton music scene thrives like bees around honey. Included within that musical hive are three-piece Gaffa Tape Sandy. Another band who’s first proper headline tour was cut short by that ‘P’ word we’ve all tried to forget, they used the downtime to develop their sound and, more importantly, heal wounds. And with that comes the release of their debut album, ‘Hold My Hand, God Damn It’.

Opening with ‘Body’, it’s clear the four year gap between releases hasn’t cost them anything other than time. Full of delicious harmonies between guitarist Kim Jarvis and bassist Catherine Lindley-Neilson, it could’ve quite easily fit in amongst any of their previous EPs. The darker lyrical undertones of finding a body in the water are somehow lightened by the upbeat delivery and danceable melodies. Similarly, ‘Energy’ touches on the breakup of a relationship with an easy, almost poppy sound, punctuated by Lindley-Neilson’s breezy vocals while ‘Get Off’ brings the same bouncy energy to the same subject from Jarvis’ perspective, complete with their trademark harmonies.

By Gaffa Tape Sandy’s standards, this album is the heaviest music they’ve ever created, and the clues were their from singles ‘Dead 2 Me’ and ‘Split’. ‘Devour’ particularly stands out amongst the heavier tracks thanks to it’s Bill Stephenson style drumming during the opening and choruses before descending (easy joke – sorry) into The Skints-esque two-tone verses. To bounce between the two with ease shows the dexterous talent of drummer Robin Francis, who not only glues everything together but manages to leave personality across each track.

While previous releases have largely been written by Jarvis, Lindley-Neilson provided tracks to this record. Working specifically from the drum beats, it’s allowed the band to expand their sound and let every aspect shine. It’s also let them touch on different styles and motifs. ‘Rosemary’ and ‘Holding Hands’ are near acoustic pieces with a dreamy, fairy-tale vibe – if the fairy-tales you’re thinking of are written by The Brothers Grimm. The harmonies on these tracks are more inline with your classic, different pitch harmonies, a far cry away from their typical sung/yelled vocal dance – and yet, it works beautifully, with Jarvis and Lindley-Neilson’s voices melding together like soft butter and warm toast.

Perhaps the most affecting track is closer ‘Queasy’. Written in the aftermath of the Sarah Everard murder, it’s a poignant slow build that feels measured and concise, despite being the longest track on the album. It lingers in the back of the mind, similar to ‘Collarbones’ from their 2017 ‘Spring Killing’ EP but with far more maturity and ambience. It opitimises the record as a whole – a more adult, grown up listen. The echo of teenage naivity is till present, but now features a touch of aged experience and nuance that they’ve developed over the years.

Like every Gaffa Tape Sandy release, ‘Hold My Hand, God Damn It’ is infinitely relistenable, with different songs sticking out dependant on your mood, the weather, and many more reasons. You’ll fixate on the deeper lyrical themes one moment, then throw shapes to the grooves the next. It’s been a long wait for their debut release and, as expected, it doesn’t disappoint.

ANDY JOICE

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