One of the great philosophies in life: “Don’t aim too high because pride comes just before a fall.” With this in mind, producing music with the aim of making people appreciate the less glamorous aspects of life may seem a little adventurous, that is unless you happen to be Grandadbob.
Garden Of Happiness delivers surreal beauty and escapism. Dave Johnson and Vanessa Robinson produce music which through its subtlety, allows for a decadent absorption, aided by the Sheffield duo’s mastery of potent lyrics. This is suitably displayed on Hide me: “Hide me from everything I do that makes you doubt me, for all I try to say I shy away, for every stupid shout every thoughtless word that makes you doubt me.”
These are not expressed in a formulaic, self indulgent manner. In a refreshing way, it shows Vanessa and Dave’s acute awareness of the reflexive and vulnerable nature of human life. As Dave cites: ” We’re sick of hearing about how shit everything is and how hard it is. Our music’s about getting up in the morning with a smile on your face.”
The album dosn’t necessitate such analysis. Shake There is just simple, gorgeous pop , highly sexualised where breathy vocals meet stompy electric rock. Think kinky, think Goldfrapp.
Fatboy Slim (who shares the same label) described the pair as “the White Stripes of electronic music.” One could argue that this association fails to recognise Grandadbob’s diversity, yet when considered it is actually quite apt. Similarly to the Jack and Meg of old, Grandadbob offer a revolutionary sound which is playfully executed but with the utmost control.
Grandadbob occupy a new space where normality, in terms of a comfortable and relaxing sound, co-exists with strangeness. This is why the album functions effectively as chill out and house music.
Listening to this album is like falling through the rabbit hole with Alice, you never know what is going to happen next. Johnson and Robinson are aware of their limitations, they have located their strengths in eclectic sounds, and experimental tracks and deviate between the two so that their album never capsizes itself with one sound.
So, what’s the great philosophical answer? Aim high. Even if the novelty of their simplistic beauty wears off, Grandbob can just pluck another arrow and fire from their gigantic bow.