What a varied little bag this debut is from musical hybrid supergroup Gramercy Arms. A little bit of this, a sprinkling of that, it comes together to make one yummy concoction; the sort Nigella would venture to her kitchen at 4am for.
Opener and first single Automatic suggests a strange copycat of so many other new, young, indie bands. But the assumption melts away as soon as the blinding chorus hits. Jagged and edgy guitars are replaced with an anthemic and harmony-clad repetition that’s difficult not to love.
But the New York group, a blend of former members of Guided By Voices, Luna, Joan As Police Woman, The Dambuilders, Fuzzy and Too Much Joy with some cameo performances by US comedienne Sarah Silverman, Lloyd Cole, Chris Brokaw and Dead Air, to name but a few, change their direction almost immediately.
From the choppy Automatic comes Looking At The Sun (featuring Ms Silverman on backing vocals) – handclaps, steel guitar and some bab bab bab bas, their west coast inspired harmonies clashing with the east and tailing off with a gritty edge. It’s keeping their feet firmly rooted on the fag butt strewn sidewalks of the city.
The rawness, joined by a sense of country melody, remains in Nothing I Can Do, its Yesterday intro careering head first into a Teenage Fanclub and David Crosby inspired ballad. Ok, it’s not the craziest thing you’ll hear this year, but it’s lovely.
The catchiest track, Since Last September, is again a little unoriginal – like a mid-’90s ‘slow number’ from a top selling US competitor to Brit Pop, but its well produced picked guitar and the multi-layered harmonies make it something delightful and much more listenable.
The lyrics ‘since last September, loves been hard to find. Since last September you’ve been on my mind’ – simple, but sweet.
Teenage Fanclub raises its head in more than a few during this debut, partly down to the bland, but not in a bad way, vocals of Dave Derby, like a more upbeat Damon Gough (Badly Drawn Boy).
From its mid-way point, the album is moving on nicely, but may lack those special bits of genius needed to keep all ears firmly perked for the duration. It’s worth persisting though as, collectively, the album is a glorious and welcome summery breeze bursting onto your face as you walk the sticky streets of the city in those humid summer months. Sit back, sip an icy beer, and enjoy.