Alternative Press - "There's a haunting aura to the effort as a whole, both in Miller's genuinely organic delivery and the eerie, nuanced sounds she's created to back it all. GUMPTION is lulling and full of life in equal measure."
Personnel: Taryn Blake Miller (vocals, guitar, drums, loops); Christopher Luxem (vocals, guitar, loops); Lindsey Kennedy, Austin Swick (vocals); Nicolas Vernhes (guitar); Nathan Dixey (12-string guitar, flute, piano); Nicolas Stahl (drums, percussion).
Recording information: Lawrence, KS; Rare Book Room, Brooklyn, NY; Seedco Studios, Lawrence, KS.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Gabe Wax; Nathan Dixey; Taryn Blake Miller.
Under the name Your Friend, Kansas native Taryn Miller weaves ambient spells that are alternately as wide as the great plains and as hazy as a shuttered bedroom in a July heat wave. She first introduced Your Friend's soundscapes in 2013 with the six-song home-recorded Jekyll/Hyde EP, which, in comparison to this debut LP, is the more straightforward of her two releases. Languid and dreamy as that EP was, it still presented Miller as a shadowy balladeer, picking distant guitar rhythms against an ebbing tide of slow pulse drum beats that often built to cathartic peaks. Gumption, which was recorded in a proper studio in Brooklyn with producer Nicolas Vernhes (Deerhunter, Wye Oak), seems even further afield than her first effort, unfurling its shimmering mists in a sonic pastiche that requires some effort to engage with. Two of its most traditionally song-based tracks, "Heathering" and the standout "Come Back from It," are front-loaded at the beginning, followed by a pensive instrumental track and the eerie, midnight creep of "Desired Things." Whether intentional or not, the album takes a sort of thematic arc as its aural mood shifts from darkness to light, particularly with the lovely title track, a song whose emotional search is buoyed by its winsome textures and steady tempo. Even the penultimate track, the icy "I Turned In" has a glimmering, sunward feeling as it sets up the nearly six-minute closer, "Who Will I Be in the Morning?" Beginning with a droning turbulence, Miller's finale delivers cloud-bursting stacks of sunlit harmonies that recall the work of Juliana Barwick over a bed of Eno-esque dreamscapes. As an album, Gumption meanders quite a bit, occasionally to the point of feeling detached, but its glimmers of gold make for an ultimately compelling listen. ~ Timothy Monger