Origami Angel’s ‘GAMI GANG’ is a deluge of wholesome emo anthems
Jim Moster | Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Many bands suffer a “sophomore slump” following a stunning debut album, but not Origami Angel. Emo’s latest rising stars return in “GAMI GANG” to serve up another round of headbangers, and they’ve got a simple message for you — you’re a badass, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Origami Angel entered the scene in 2019 with “Somewhere City,” a captivating concept album about finding yourself through sheer will. They quickly earned a spot on “bands to watch” lists across the Internet. Origami Angel’s trademark sound — a loud mixture of confident guitar, thumping drums and peppy, playful vocals — won the hearts of young and old emo fans alike.
Origami Angel’s memorable brand remains front and center in “GAMI GANG.” Affectionately titled after the band’s fanbase, the album is a 51-minute bundle of pop punk jams. Even the most skeptical of listeners will have a goofy smile on their face by a few songs in.
“GAMI GANG” is so musically similar to “Somewhere City” that it almost feels like a mega-deluxe edition of its predecessor. While the band ventures into new territory in a few places — we get some samba in “Bossa Nova Corps” and hints of pop rock in “Footloose Cannonball Brothers” — they never stray far from home for long. And if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Each of the 20 songs on “GAMI GANG” is an earworm with its own brand of wholesomeness. In “Neutrogena Spektor,” a heavy hitter with a screamo outro, vocalist Ryland Heagy details his triumph over insecurity: “This cystic acne doesn’t look so good when it’s on me / But I don’t care, it really doesn’t matter to me.”
In another standout song, “Kno U,” Heagy assures a troubled friend that “They don’t know you like they think they do / They can’t see the things that you’ve been through.” With sappy lines like these throughout the album, “GAMI GANG” could pass as a pop punk rendition of “Dear Evan Hansen.”
When Origami Angel isn’t shouting at you to love yourself, they are reminiscing about their oh-so-wonderful childhoods. Fans have come to expect nostalgia from the duo, which has released entire EPs centered around Pokémon and Minecraft. Like in “Somewhere City,” Game Boys and chicken strips are glorious treasures in “GAMI GANG.” The album includes samples from “Jimmy Neutron,” “Malcolm In The Middle” and “Star Wars.”
While “GAMI GANG” accomplishes everything it sets out to do, it is a bit disappointing when compared to “Somewhere City.” The latter is a tight, carefully crafted, lyrically interesting bundle of 10 songs that takes the listener on a journey. “GAMI GANG” is a jam-packed sample platter of teenage insecurities and romantic fantasies. When Heagy sings, “I’ve still got lots of things to say / But it looks like we’re running out of time” in the closer, it feels like a literal description of the album. Origami Angel jammed out until they had a double LP’s worth of great content and then called it a day.
Regardless, “GAMI GANG” is something special. It sounds like the kind words that your skater friend shares with you when you finally open up about your mental health. It feels like getting picked up and asked, “Are you alright?” after falling down in a mosh pit. “GAMI GANG” is blasting punk in the car, with the windows down, shouting choruses with your favorite people in the world.
This album is a rollercoaster of fun from start to finish. Origami Angel can’t run on wholesome vibes forever, but for now, they have one of the most exhilarating emo sounds since the genre’s golden era.
Artist: Origami Angel
Album: “GAMI GANG”
Label: Counter Intuitive Records
Favorite Tracks: “Neutrogena Spektor,” “Bossa Nova Corps,” “Noah Fence”
If you like: Dogleg, Glass Beach, Neck Deep
Shamrocks: 4 out of 5