Today’s Song: Gulfer Dive Deep With New Standalone Single “Clean”

Gulfer © Noémie Plante
Gulfer © Noémie Plante
Montréal’s Gulfer showcase a blend of emo and indie rock on their biting new track “Clean,” which boasts a “wall of sound” approach and a surprisingly upbeat music video.
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Stream: “Clean” – Gulfer

Gulfer are more ready than ever to shift gears sonically and lyrically, at least if new single “Clean” is any indication. 

The four-piece (comprised of guitarists and vocalists Vincent Ford and Joe Theirrault, plus bassist David Mitchell and drummer Julien Daoust) have carved out a niche north of the border (the group hails from Montreal) in similarly hard-charging, clever fashion alongside Canadian rockers like PUP, but there are other elements at play still.

Clean - Gulfer
Clean – Gulfer

The quartet, signed to Topshelf Records, defies convention with stunted time signatures, intricate and technically appealing guitar work, and hits of emo and punk thrown in the melting pot for good measure.

The overall effect has a little bit of everything, be it more traditional indie rock leanings or powerful, emotive sonic textures and vocal stylings.

Indeed, the 1.6-million-plus streams on “Fading,” off 2018’s Dog Bless, showcase a cranked-up volume and intensity, while the latest single is a touch more measured (yet no less listenable).

Gulfer © 2023
Gulfer © Noémie Plante, 2021

“Clean” is quite literally a clean, crisp and yet powerful wall of explosive, guitar-driven sound, hueing more closely to a blend of emo and late ‘90s alternative rock, particularly in the vocal department.

Lyrically however, the song veers into darker territory and depicts a fictional account of an employee on the run after killing their boss – not exactly a typical trope for an emo or indie rock song.

“At this point in our career, I realized the songs could be about anything,” Ford says.

The track sets the tone immediately and shows that these days, Gulfer seem to say that they aren’t shy about taking aim at social issues, even in a bit more of an unconventional manner: “when you work all day and watch the boss get paid/no nice heart lasts long in this game.

The band enlisted the help of Emmy-winning cinematographer and fellow Canadian Jordano Aguzzi on a music video that also subverts expectations, throwing the band off the deep end into a pool.

Gulfer © Noémie Plante
Gulfer © Noémie Plante

“The choice for us to set the video by the pool was a way for us to twist some of the song’s darker lyrics (“There were two ports in the storm / fish him out in his uniform“) into something bright and upbeat,” Theirrault says. “That tension between the lyrics and the instrumentation is part of the song itself. “

And the song takes its title from the knowing nod in this fictional account: “Wipe the fingerprints clean, wipe the fingerprints clean.

Gulfer have shown a willingness to push boundaries, to build higher and go deeper, and to take an unconventional approach to what a guitar band can be these days.

All are certainly welcome in today’s music landscape, so keep your ears in tune for what’s next for the quartet.

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Clean - Gulfer

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