Equal parts Space Odyssey and Ghost World, Ganser released their debut LP Odd Talk in 2018 to favorable coverage from The New York Times, Billboard, and Stereogum. Building on their dissociative disorder namesake, the album’s tone vacillated between frenzied and contemplative, probing on questions of communication, intimacy, and avoidance. On Just Look at That Sky, Ganser further explores the personal inner climate of uncertain times.
Opening track "Lucky" announces an explosive energy that evokes the Midwest noise-rock legacy of bands like Jesus Lizard and Shellac, while embracing a more colorful palette of post-punk and art-rock influences. Nadia Garofalo and Alicia Gaines, a self-described two-headed monster who share lead vocal duties, can bring both a recalcitrant cool worthy of Kim Gordon and a booming sneer that recalls Poly Styrene; the discordant interplay of Charlie Landsman's guitar and Brian Cundiff's drums on standouts "Self Service" and "Bad Form" build to blistering climaxes that wouldn’t feel out of place on Red Medicine-era Fugazi.
And then there’s Ganser's lyrics: manic explorations of worry and dread mark this record, the epic messiness of daily life in our damaged times attacked with sardonic specificity as often as generalized doom. Just Look at That Sky isn’t afraid to acknowledge that we’re all Extremely Online all the time, but rather explicitly owns it. These songs chart inner monologues of emphatic confusion, emotions already deeply felt further ratcheted up by the anxiety of always having too much information about other people, and always being just one tweet or status update away from knowing what everyone really thinks about us. This culminates in closing track "Bags for Life," which imagines how online discourse might tackle a front-row seat for the end of the world.
These are songs that never shy away from ugliness and confusion, that believe embracing the totality of the self sometimes means leaning into our dickish behavior. In the past, some listeners have had trouble reconciling non-male voices with the sorts of topics Ganser writes about, but that comes to an end with Just Look at That Sky. Co-produced with Electrelane's Mia Clarke and engineer Brian Fox, this is an assured, fully realized triumph of a record from an art-punk band that’s figured out how to focus on making great art, even if everything else around them falls apart.