The Gifted Children – Whitespace Differences / We Saw the Vultures EP

The Gifted Children
Whitespace Differences / We Saw the Vultures EP

The Gifted Children are a Western New York band that prides itself as much on its ability to rock out as to lose itself in chaotic or lush noisescapes. To say the band is schizophrenic would be a misnomer; rather, it’s a band in phases. In one phase, the band could rival Guided By Voices for literate and catchy pop songs, and in another, the talented group of musicians get lost in electronics and experimental sounds.

The talent of the Children’s musicians is unmistakable. When they want to rock out, they do so effortlessly. Their poppy songs are catchy and fun. And when they get creative and experimental, the result is curious and usually lush and lovely or thick and powerfully moving.

The album Whitespace Differences opens with the thick-sounding “Plot::God,” a wash of noise and fuzzed drums to accompany gorgeous “ahh-ahh” vocals and layered sounds. It’s a teaser to lead into the more poppy “Velvet Rope,” which features the vocals of Pam Swarts along with lead singer Jeff Suszczynski, both rather shimmering with just the right amount of echo. At 2:11, it’s over as fast as your favorite GBV track, and it’s contrasted by the louder electric guitars and distorted vocals of the much more experimental “Ah, Pan.” “Grace” is a perfect name for the quiet and sweet-sounding pop track that features my favorite guitar on the album. That and it’s follow-up, the short “Infection Swath Flyover” that hits you with an unexpected moody indie rock, are my favorites on the album.

Transitioning to a new phase, “Tinhorn Planets” is a thick, electronic track, filled with curious noises and beats, Suszczynski’s voice echoing over top, singing in his usual style of literate and disconnected poetry. There’s soft electronic noises underlying the moodier “Strange Caroms,” a slower and darker song. It flows nicely into the Beta Band-style instrumental “…And then Fold, Homeward,” and the album ends with the short “The Best of the Surface Tourists,” which is surprisingly light pop with soft acoustic guitar.

On Whitespace Differences, “We Saw the Vultures” is a short, quieter track. On the album’s companion EP, titled We Saw the Vultures, it’s pure rock-n-roll that’s still under a minute. The five-minute “October” is a lush and quiet electronic number, perhaps one of the prettiest songs the band released. “Point Work” is an odd pop song, mid-tempo and more traditionally structured. The band shows its habit of giving a nod to Western New York on the last two songs, the quieter and pretty acoustic “Mt. Hope” (an old and beautiful cemetery and neighborhood in Rochester) and the light, electronic instrumental “Letchworth” (a beautiful park in the area) that is accompanied by the sounds of flocking geese.

The Gifted Children released a number of albums in various phases of rock or experimental pop before disbanding for a while, only to recently reunite for a number of shows, to form the label Tinhorn Planet, and release some of the ever-growing piles of music begging for an audience. These were the band’s first two releases this year, with four other albums or EPs already released or reissued. I hope to stay busy spreading the word about this band’s varied yet rich catalog. Check out the band’s website for free downloads of the EP A Turncoat Spring.