Bands like Gabriels only come along once in a generation. They are special; totally unique. Their ability to sound like something from the distant past and, simultaneously, something of the future, is mindblowing.
It feels like it has taken ages to get to Angels & Queens. The band’s breakthrough single, Love and Hate in a Different Time, was released in June 2021. I can vividly recall hearing it for the first time and assuming, wrongly, that I was hearing a tune released on an old wax cylinder in the nineteen-thirties. When I learned that the artist was a band at the beginning of their career, not from a century ago, I was ensnared. Obsessed, I sought everything I could – news, photos, other releases. There wasn’t very much. The one snippet that I had to discover was the release date for the debut album. That’s how it works right? Single, then album. Uh-huh. Not Gabriels. They don’t do conventional.
In December of last year, Love and Hate in a Different Time was finally followed up by the Bloodline EP, featuring the stunning Blame. Brilliant as it was, it wasn’t enough. I was like Dracula after a hundred-year sleep – very, very thirsty. And this sweetest soul/R&B was my bloodline.
Finally, eventually, without fanfare, the album dropped in September. Angels & Queens was, unsurprisingly, magnificent. I wrote about it for Louder Than War and, for only the second time, found myself awarding an album five stars. I admit that, at the time of writing, I was swept on a tidal wave of elation. However, have since seen them live, performing these absolute jewels in up close and personal, I feel even more comfortable with that rating.
Of course, when it comes to Gabriels, the big draw is that voice. How could it not be? Jacob Lusk is a former American Idol finalist (I’d love to hear the person who beat him) and he has a voice that is unrivalled in the business today. It swoops and soars, it’s dramatic and it’s intimate. It oozes soul and carries freight containers of emotion. Listen to him delivering Taboo. However, it’s not all about Lusk. Gabriels wouldn’t be the band that they are without the parts played by composer and multi-instrumentalist Ari Balouzian and film director (yes) Ryan Hope.
Together, that trio have created a flawless album in Angels & Queens. For now, my appetite is sated, but I’m going to need fed again soon enough. Fortunately, this record is only part one of the collection, with more to come in the spring. It cannot come quickly enough.