time to change the way we view music and the arts

Gillian just wants everyone to help “Put It Back Together”

Rough blue sketch of a city scape. An airplane is in the sky of the image. Small red hearts are coming up from the bottom of the frame. Black, stylized text in the frame reads, "Gillian"

Image courtesy of artist


It’s been nearly seven years since the last time this space had an opportunity to sing the praises of Brooklyn, NY band Gillian. Those familiar might remember this review, leading up to the release of the band’s EP, Strange Candy. (independent, 2016). Despite such a long stretch between projects, the five piece indie group hasn’t lost a stylistic step. In fact, while the group has undergone some changes – both logistical and artistic – the band’s freshly pressed debut full-length, Put It Back Together (independent, 2022), displays nothing but an earnest sense of openness and a very natural sounding pivot of sonic personality that would be entirely understandable for any musicians in this position. Still, for those listeners who have been waiting patiently in the wings for this day in Gillian’s journey to come, perhaps wondering what an eventual record could possibly sound like after so long, there are ample facets of familiarity sewn into Put It Back Together that remove the need for worries over musical whiplash.


Group of people in a bright room with teal colored walls

Image courtesy of artist | Photo credit: Matt Bell

Gillian is:
Kym Hawkins (Vocals)
Geoff Bennington (Vocals, Guitar)
William Acevedo (Guitar)
Peter Longofono (Bass)
Brian Yurachek (Drums)


Put it Back Together sees Kym Hawkins and Geoff Bennington still holding down the fort as Gillian’s harmonizing vocal force. Instrumentally, the group has held onto its synthesizer and guitar driven melodic framework as well, with both elements maintaining a respectable ratio between the two of them. In spite of the subtle “synth creep” that has made its way into much of the mainstream pop rock aesthetic these days – leaving the guitar and previous expectations for anything “rock” related sounding much more polished electronic – Gillian was careful not to tip the balance of its established sound too far into synth-powered territory for solely trend-minded purposes. The album unfolds with a steadfast musical focus and a concentrated sense of self with regard to its conceptual aspirations. Given the fact that Put It Back Together is only eight tracks in length, the very structure of the record presents a front that is united in not wasting time or energy away from what’s most important to the band at this moment in time.

Opening track “Miami” hammers this point home without hesitation, as the initial drum hook is followed by a syllabic group vocal and then by Hawkins singing above a potpourri of percussive bell tones, stick taps, and subtle bass. From there, the next verse only builds upon that with the addition of a couple prominently placed, overdubbed electric guitar lines. The arrangement as a whole remains somewhat sparse, not looking to bombard listeners with everything and the kitchen sink, right away. But for what is written into “Miami,” Gillian show their love for the tone color of percussion and the bite of a guitar hasn’t taken a back seat. That said, straight off that introduction, Gillian make sure to take the time to recalibrate in the other direction as well.  “Dani” will greet new listeners with a delightfully animated synth tone that seems fits for the present moment of pop, while longtime fans will rejoice in a standout sound from Gillian hits gone by. “Dani” comes brandishing a synth with a distinctly bubbling sound quality – one that sounds like it was ripped right out of an 8-bit arcade game or chip tune track – the very same signature sound that opens the hook of previous single “Eau to Be.”  Smaller secondary details like the lyric line, “Gina she’s a gamer,” only add to the creative cleverness of the track. “Who Are You,” highlights both the titular phrase of the album, as well as provides the most direct reference to the primary values of the record.


“We have always tried to have a positive, unifying force in our music but suddenly it felt weird to write songs about parties or our favorite books. And at the end of confronting our anxieties and fear and overall confusion of the current state of affairs we are left to say, “I don’t care who’s right, just help us put it back together’.”

– Gillian on the intentions behind “Put It Back Together”


Though a bit front loaded as only the third track on the album, with “Who Are You?” being somewhat offered early on within the album, listeners aren’t forced to wait for some  concluding apex in order for Gillian’s conceptual intentions to become clear. That again speaks to the no nonsense approach of Put It Back Together, which really makes the album shine as a first full length. As the record continues on, the straightforward but somewhat generalized thesis statement nature of “Who Are You?” finds itself bolstered by messages of more specific context. This approach makes the back half of Put It Back Together feel a little like it’s following the format of a classic school essay, which uses examples to support its main statement. No two tracks are perhaps more uncompromising and utterly laser-focused in this regard than “You Won’t Admit It.” This decidedly upbeat track comes alive with an abundance of syncopated rhythms and a sprightly tempo. The titular refrain is especially catchy, thanks to its off-beat rhythm powering the chorus forward. The lyrics are scathing and the occasional unvarnished background vocal shout heard between verses shows just how much of this track is about catharsis in reaction to a situation no one of average means had direct control over at the time. The touches of deliberate imperfection are just right for the mood of this lyrically jagged song and the interludes of garage-tinged guitar, flush with cymbal splashes are really the only way this emotional release of a song could make its best impact. It’s another case for a less electronically driven side of pop and rock and a nod for the benefits of the raucous indie and alternative from years gone by.


Well I don’t care whose shoes you wore
You’ll always be a bankrupt wh–e
My country tis not of thee
How much did you sell us for?

– Lyrics from “You Won’t Admit It”


When Put It Back Together  gets ready to close, “This City Ain’t Dead” rounds out the album with its most colorful arrangement – loaded not only with the ingredients of a classic rock band and Gillian’s beloved synth sparkle, but also the shining flourishes of bright horn harmonies and a nice support of percussive rattles, intermittent group background vocals, the snap of solid snare hits, and the fuzzy and feistiness of Hawkins’ layered main vocals. While the lyrics are a bit challenging to decipher (This is the one area of style that Gillian could perhaps consider adjusting – much of the lyrics in most of the songs are unintelligible. Hawkins’ vocals style is wonderfully distinct and draws immediate attention and energy but with this release having such poignant thoughts, losing out on that dimension of Gillian’s hard work because of a stylistic choice that foregoes some enunciation, seems like an unfortunate waste!), the overall mood and emotional direction of the song are more than clear: things are lively, energized, motivated, and confident. Heard all together, the song’s rhythmic flow and bright brass see it flirting with the qualities of modern ska which, given Gillian’s previous musical echoes of No Doubt’s classic musical style, isn’t all that random or surprising and is a perfect fit for the emotion “This City Ain’t Dead” is looking to convey.

Put It Back Together serves as a solid reminder that in this life, on this one planet everyone shares, it’s about moving forward in a positive way, together, more than its about sticking it to someone else. It’s applaudable that Gillian has chosen to offer such a meaningful and socially vital concept as the underlying the fabric of their first full-length. While the band obviously lived through, and formed opinions around so much of what the world went through during their seven year silence, they could have just as easily bypassed all these complicated matters that many have already moved on from and launched this milestone separate from any reminders of tension, uncertainty, or frustration. The fact that Gillian ultimately chose the path less traveled only makes Put It Back Together stand out more as a debut and establishes Gillian as a band that can bring the both the casual celebration and serious contemplation, in perfectly packaged songs. This album faces its fears head on but does so with an optimistic stride that happens to sound really good.


Put It Back Together is available now.
Find it on iTunes and streaming on Spotify.

Keep up with Gillian through its official website and these social media platforms:

Twitter (@GillianTheBand)

Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS