Album Reviews

Grammatics – Grammatics

(Dance To The Radio) UK release date: 23 March 2009

In the red corner: criminally underrated, sonically inventive, math-rock masterminds – Youthmovies. In the blue corner: 2008’s undisputed champions of airtight, dancefloor-demolishing, hyper-guitar riffery – Foals.

If you can imagine either party of these size zero, miniature indie heroes mustering the physical vigour to engage in a clash of Ali v Fraser proportions, then the resulting battle and smashing of cheekboned guitar riffs into peculiar time signatures and musical leftfieldness would usher a sound not unlike Grammatics’ self-titled debut album.

Naturally, this is just another crude journalistic analogy that is fairly meaningless in the consumer real world of CDs in stereos, and iPods in pockets, but be they influences or not – there are tacit similarities between Grammatics, and the aforementioned.

Woe betide any mentions of derivative musical stylings, however, for Grammatics’ zesty creativity smacks of originality, and excitement. The sort of excitement that is naturally coaxed to its summit upon discovering a band that possess the requisite charm and charge to sweep listeners off their feet, and into a web of skewed guitar riffs, string-laden introspectiveness, and dreamy vocals.

As iLiKETRAiNS-esque eerie guitar drama ushers ferocious art-rock literate riffery before collapsing into an intimate, cello-adorned sonic hug, Shadow Committee scrawls out the Grammatics battleplan. A battleplan that is intently stabbed with the resplendent saw-edged dagger of D.I.L.E.M.M.A. Haunting, urgent, and with a pop swagger that walks as tall as the skyline, D.I.L.E.M.M.A’s rabid pop bite is ferocious, and addictive. This, ladies and gentlemen, is an anthem.

Other high octane highlights include Rosa Flood, and The Vague Archive. But with the shimmering opuses Broken Wing, and the magnificent Inkjet Lakes, Grammatics prove that they are equally comfortable writing down-tempo, introspective, emotionally redolent music.

Frontman Owen Brinley is consistently brilliant in both penning imaginative vocal melodies, and delivering them. His vocal style straddles the middle ground between heartfelt passion, and effortless cool. Broken Wing is the best illustrator of his talent as his sizeable, lung-busting outbursts belie the fact that he looks like a 12 year old boy who lives with the enduring fear that he could easily fall victim to a stiff breeze.

Lyrics such as Shadow Committee’s “We are all deluded with grandeur” suggest that Grammatics are knowingly self-indulgent. But more than that, they possess a musical curiosity, and an aptitude for thinking about their songs and journeying them into territories that deviate from well-trodden paths, and are quite simply fun to listen to. As such their debut is never a dull listen, and boasts enough creativity and considered intelligence about it to set Grammatics apart from their indie contemporaries who are young pretenders by comparison. A band to fall in love with.

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