The city of Sheffield has produced its fair share of notables in the world of music such as The Human League, Pulp and Moloko. What all of these Steel City types had in common was an endearing eccentricity that marked them out from the more run of the mill bands. Grandadbob follow in that fine tradition with the wonderfully titled Waltzes For Weirdos.
The band consists of Vanessa Robinson and Dave Johnson and, in a delightfully unconventional touch, are named after Vanessa’s granddad (who also appears in a speaking role on one track!). Their previous singles have been described as ‘Moloko meets Daft Punk‘ and it’s true that they take the best and worst influences from both of those bands.
Both of those groups seem to tread a fine line between classy, funky songwriting and self-indulgent nonsense, and it’s the same with Grandadbob. On the plus side, they specialise in a rich, deep sound that’s bound to seduce both clubbers and non-clubbers alike. Tracks such as Mmmnn and Monster will keep the Moloko comparisions flying, not just due to the Sheffield connection, but because Robinson’s sultry, breathy voice is a dead ringer for Roisin Murphy.
Elsewhere though, they seem prone to bouts of self-indulgence and lean towards self-conscious kookiness – Kenny for example features a sample of a child’s voice crying “it’s Grandadbob yer silly banana”. It’s charming at first but soon becomes irritating. The Daft Punk influence can be heard in the overwhelming array of odd noises on the final track Anger Thy Neighbour together with the appearance of the dreaded vocoder on City Approach – a shame as its clipped guitar sound is one of the highlights of the album.
However, there are enough touches to indicate that if they can reign in this more self-indulgent side, there’s a great band waiting to appear. Robinson’s voice is superb throughout, and the album suffers when she doesn’t appear, as on the repetitive Your Mama. As well as the aforementioned Roisin Murphy, there are also touches of Beth Gibbons in there, especially in the Portishead-esque Open Mouthed.
Waltzing For Weirdos is certainly a promising debut from the duo and definitely suggests greater things to come. If they can concentrate on the songwriting and reign in the more annoyingly quirky side, a truly great second album could well be the result.