Geese are a band of Brooklyn kids just out of high school, but they’ve already got the indie-rock-prodigy thing easily in hand on their excellent debut. The erudition on Projector can be pretty staggering. You can hear NYC guitar zone-out Zen masters like Television, the Feelies, and Parquet Courts; the early-’00s neo-New Wave and dance-punk of the Strokes, the Rapture, and LCD Soundsystem; scads of art-spaz stuff from DNA to Deerhoof to Black Midi; and even a flash of prog touchstones like Yes and Radiohead. Singer Cameron Winter can hoist his voice into a Thom Yorkean falsetto, put on a posh pout à la Julian Casablancas or Ian McCulloch of Echo and the Bunnymen, or lapse into a stentorian yawp that brings to mind Mark E. Smith of the Fall or Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner. Sometimes you can hear it all cross-pollinating within the space of the same three-minute song, making for an album that rewards both short attention spans and deep listening. It’s a real treat to hear them zip between sonic epiphanies.
Geese have been getting a lot of baby-band hype, but they’ve playing together for years. That time together gives their music a veteran chemistry and confidence that almost feels disconcerting considering their age — like when you get to college and meet some terrifyingly smart kid in freshman year English who casually claims she’s already read Ulysses. “Fantasies/Survival” starts off like a fun riff on the early Strokes, until it speeds off into the stratosphere, wearing its hand-me-down black leather jacket like Superman’s cape. “First World Warrior” stretches out with a patient, gorgeous ambient spaciousness that stands in sharp contrast to the angular, over-heated tumult of songs like the album-opener “Rain Dance.”
At their best, Geese connect these two impulses — their fidgety side and their dreamy side coming together to make music that’s at once driving and disoriented, undercutting its man-size musical command with the youthful wonder, ambivalence, and worry you’d expect from sharp teenagers. “I’m afraid of the world/’Cause I don’t know what it might do,” Winter sings on “Exploding House,” their dazzling expression of OK Computer-style paranoid angst. When the title track opens with him singing “Underneath the basement/I am the king of cicadas,” the lordly cockiness feels tongue-in-cheek; when he admits “I’m only human,” a minute or so later, it sounds much more sincere.
The album’s centerpiece is the six-minute single “Disco,” which goes from stormy no-wave stomp to Television-style guitar surrealism, as Winter describes a rough night at out at the club that unfolds like a nightmare vision of the Strokes’ bygone NYC player’s paradise: “You threw your drink on me as I was leaning over/But I still asked you if you wanted to leave/I talk to the mirror like I’m trying to start a fight.” Not a bad metaphor for coming of age in the horror-show reality of 2021. Luckily, on Projector, Geese know all the right noise to guide us to a good time anyway.