ALBUM REVIEW: Gus Dapperton’s Electric ‘Henge’

Brendan Patrick Rice, performing under the name Gus Dapperton, is known for many things: eclectic outfits, bright colors, and his third studio album Henge, released July 7, 2023, under Warner Records. The American singer-songwriter rose to notability after his song “Of Lacking Spectacle: was featured in the Netflix original show 13 Reasons Why. While Dapperton’s previous two albums delved into the ideas of change and life, Henge is the first full concept collection dedicated to the complexities of the human experience — life and death, old and new, beginnings and endings. The exploration spawns over eleven experimental tracks declaring the musician’s tendencies to stray from the beaten path.


Slow guitar picking introduces listeners to the opening track “Sunset,” the pace immediately amping up as Dapperton’s voice, warped and transformed with almost robotic-like sounds,  comes through. Fitting with his theme of the opposite styles of the world, “Sunset” opens at the end, allowing for the rest of the album to bridge the gap between night and day. The experimental track utilizes techno beats, electric guitar strums, and genre-blending, shifting, and re-making.

“Horizons,” the third song on Henge, represents a lost person finding their way out of their situation. Channeling the teenage angst and catchy drum pounds of artists like Troye Sivan, Dapperton describes what it’s like to completely leave behind the past: “Old horizons fall to pieces.” This late-night-drive, indie-pop energy flows through the following track “Homebody,” especially with the song’s repetitive lyrics.

The fifth song “The Stranger” seems to serve the same idea that Billy Joel’s iconic song (of the same name) did: it narrates the idea that everyone has someone living inside them that they refuse to acknowledge. With the quirky sounds of record zips and scratches, the song is undeniably unique despite its relatable concept. “You freeze when danger knocks at your door/The pent-up pain is keepin’ it closed/Let the stranger out of the mold.”


“Lights” was created in collaboration with Nigerian musician Cruel Santino, the song itself is about someone who claims to not love the spotlight but actually does. “Insecure, provoked, and scarred/You always say you miss the dark/But when the lights come on in Chelsea Market/Steals your heart, it steals your heart.” The two artists beautifully showcase their distinct electric styles without overpowering the other’s voice.

“Don’t Let Me Down,” featuring Gen-Z musician BENEE, is a venture rooted in friendship. As Dapperton and BENEE play an ex-couple who are debating getting back together, their powerful back-and-forth transcends beyond the pop track and into a realm of musical realism, “And now you’re askin’ if I’ll take you back/But boy, I’m sorry, but I can’t do that.”

Starting off acoustic is the tenth song “Wet Cement,” the slow beat stays throughout the track but changes from guitar to pounding synth. Referencing the album’s theme of sunset and sunrise, the song continues to develop the idea of contrasting change. Henge concludes with “Sunrise,” the two-and-a-half minute piece solely a piano melody and the poetic narration of best-selling author Ocean Vuong. Vuong says, “How can we not jump?/Here, at the end/Where each of your burning wings is finally/Made of music.”

Henge is, at its most simple and complicated form, the period between the end and the beginning; more than a representation of the dynamic tendencies of life, it’s an in-depth look at how, no matter how the day ended, a new one will always come tomorrow.