Unless you’re a devoted follower of Midwestern indie-rock and hip-hop, Gayngs hardly seemed deserving of the “supergroup” tag it was awarded when the project was announced earlier this year. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, P.O.S. of Minneapolis hip-hop collective Doomtree, and members of Megafaun, The Rosebuds, and Solid Gold barely register as stars for most people, much less superstars. But you don’t have to be familiar with the expansive collective’s parts to appreciate the poker-faced cheese-pop of Gayngs’ debut, Relayted. While Gayngs claims to have more than two-dozen members, Relayted is clearly the work of a single auteur, producer Ryan Olson, who used his impressive cast in surprising ways—P.O.S sings! Justin Vernon raps!—to craft a record fueled by the soft-rock solipsism of 10cc and loads of antidepressants.
It’s often hard to tell who’s doing what on Relayted: Olson layers vocalist upon vocalist in a hazy mix of sheets-blowing sax solos, draggy drum machines, and bad vibes. This works to the advantage of Relatyed, which is built like a sexy bedroom mix tape that gets the actual sex quickly out of the way on the irony-skirting opener “The Gaudy Side Of Town.” After that, Relayted is all about post-coital soul-searching, most strikingly on a beguiling cover of Godley & Creme’s “Cry” and the Sade-meets-Steely Dan funk of “Crystal Rope.” For an album that initially promised “Bone Thugs-style R&B,” Relayted isn’t quite as much fun as it could’ve been. (Though the shimmering “Faded High” could be an actual pop hit.) But Olson has found the right people to make his utterly unique lite-FM fantasies a reality.