New York artist Gus Dapperton released his second studio album, “Orca,” on Sept. 18, propelling himself further into the indie-pop genre, weighing in on such topics as death, sibling relationships and heartbreak.

Featured on New Zealander singer-songwriter BENNE’s 2019 hit “Supalonely,” Dapperton slowly entered the niche of bedroom pop with his debut album “Where Polly People Go To Read.” While “Orca” maintains many aspects of Dapperton’s original indie-pop sound, it introduces hints of angst and sadness, giving Dapperton space to open up more than ever before.

“Bottle Opener,” the album’s leading track, layers melancholic vocals over upbeat production, delving into Dapperton’s struggle with bottling up his emotions. Lacking a traditional chorus, the track’s song structure immediately sets an unique tone for the rest of the album.

Originally released in April 2020, “First Aid” sounds stripped down and sombre, using heavy bass guitar and soft-spoken vocals. Dapperton holds nothing back with the lyrics “I won’t forget about the way you saved my life / You wrap me up,” showcasing the close knit relationship he has with his sister.

Darker in tone, “Bluebird” takes the album in a gloomy direction, incorporating heavy drums and low-pitched, passionate vocals. Dapperton openly discusses death with the lyrics “My grave puts all the weight on hold / This grave roots all the way back home,” which I thought paired well with the song’s sad tone.

One of my favorites off the album, “Palms” evokes Rex Orange County’s 2016 hit “Corduroy Dreams.” Incorporating melodious vocals, catchy electric guitar and upbeat drums, this track felt spontaneous and carefree — a desperately needed quality after listening to “Bluebird.”

Elated and upbeat, “My Say So” opens with bluesy piano and jumpy xylophone, creating a refreshingly experimental feel. The track’s chorus, “You love the way that people change / My say-so still stays the same, so I say so in different ways,” features Australian alternative singer Chela.

Another one of my favorites, “Antidote” slows the album down with stripped back production. The slow pace and minimal kick drum paired perfectly with the choral backing vocals. Dapperton's autotuned voice during the lyrics, “I like the waves, you grew up out of L.A.” works well with the overall bedroom-pop feel of the track.

The album’s ninth track, “Medicine,” intertwines electric keyboard and pillowy synths to create a melodramatic, dreamy bedroom-pop vibe. I loved the lyrics “I don’t ever wanna let you go / You’re the only one who lets me in,” as I too have experienced the overwhelming feeling of first love.

“Orca” surprised me with its depth of narrative, dimension of production and overall melodramatic tone. The growth and transition Dapperton made from his first to second album makes me excited for the evolution of his music career.

Raegan Holland is the lifestyles editor for The Arkansas Traveler, where she previously worked as a staff reporter.

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