Gonetcha: “Fickle Games” – guitars are at the vibrant, buoyant core

Launched in Lyon, France, by a bass player, Gonetcha is an alternative rock project that started out in 2017. In that same year Gonetcha released “Métro de Pensées”, an album mixing French and English...

Launched in Lyon, France, by a bass player, Gonetcha is an alternative rock project that started out in 2017. In that same year Gonetcha released “Métro de Pensées”, an album mixing French and English lyrics with rock and groove instrumentals. March 2018, saw the project drop its second album – “Mission” – recorded entirely in English, and inspired by a mythological heroic journey. Now in 2019 the project jumps straight back with a brand new album, entitled, “Fickle Games”. All Gonetcha songs exist on a continuum between two poles: snappy, twee-inflected alternative rock songs and challenging, mind-altering experimental elements.

Both options are loaded with biting, driven guitar sounds and Lou Reed-styled monotone vocal deliveries. It’s easy to imagine the lead singer muttering many of his lyrics under his breath. Whether dealing in transcendental imagery or detail-rich true-life frustrations, he contributes some of the genre’s more evocative and affecting turns of phrase, which are contagiously thoughtful.

But Gonetcha is best known for their guitar work. Whether couched in low-budget overdriven crackle or gleaming crystalline motifs, Gonetcha’s six-string theatrics have always been astonishing. And continue to be so on “Fickle Games”. Actually it may even be better than ever before.

They dispel the notions that indie rock is only for those without chops and that impacting guitar riffs are only for classic rock sets. They exhibit a deeply creative approach to the guitar, building from clean electric picking to a climax of noise-drenched textures and huge, resonant chords.

Everything is to the point on this album: “Picture Me” kicks off with thumping drums, and dirty broad guitar riffs behind a mesmerizing repeating melody. The bass drops in dominantly in “Save Our Decay” which hurtles along in a hurried punk road style.

Tempos remain brisk, as the riffs become more complex, and the singing continues to deal out deadpan melodies meant to hypnotize, on “Don’t Say Sorry”. Pop instincts remain fine-tuned, with “Giddy Buy” carousing amid an especially infectious hook, while the progressive bass tendencies play out with concision, on “More Witty” which whizzes through interlocking riffs.

“I Need To Know” ups the pace to dancefloor standards, which serves largely as a rhythmic placeholder for the guitar which remains the primary instrument, along with the bass. As “Rebel Hour” locks into a steady gallop, Gonetcha unleashes tight chordal clusters, single-note flurries, and even fuzzed-out riffs.

“By Myself” starts out like a deep-voiced religious chant before breaking out of its melodic trance. “Losing Control” sits right at the band’s musical sweet spot: tight webs of guitar, knotty at places and dangling in the breeze elsewhere. But that reduction to the physical belies the melodic streak in Gonetcha’s evocative phrases, which can be heard on “Look For Me”.

Though the lyrics on “Fickle Games” hang heavy in places, guitars will always be the vibrant, buoyant core of Gonetcha. And so it is on “Flee Or Flight”, here Gonetcha twists the six-stringed instrument until it sounds like the howl of a big cat.

The eclectic alternative band closes the album down with “No Limit”, once again leaning on a catchy guitar motif, a fiery solo, and an extremely tight arrangement which supports the brawny choral mantra which will ring in your ears long after the track has finished.

While Gonetcha’s songs would have an emotional depth without even without the lyrics and their guitar skill would be legendary enough to draw listeners, the lyrics and deadpan vocals capture moments that resonate to the core. After another excellent record of big hooks and guitar wizardry, there shouldn’t be much doubt.

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