From ‘You’re A Girl, I’m A Machine’ to “Nobody’s got the down payment, down payment”. It’s amazing how what you scream about alters with age and experience. Sebastien Grainger, better known as the drummer and singer in Death From Above 1979, has moved on and is now tackling a more mature set of problems.
For a song (The Streets Are Still A Mess) at least, Grainger not only empathises with first time buyers but also ponders the lot of the city planner. With all of the unhappiness of a man who has seen the inside of one too many new zoning laws. “If the city don’t change / if the city don’t grow / where will the new people go?” he asks, not unreasonably. A question those in power on both sides of the Atlantic, and most especially in London, have still not answered.
Maybe it sounds like a hard sell. It would be a hard sell if it wasn’t so gosh darn likeable. That’s definitely a trick Grainger seems to have down. It was exactly the same with the record he made five years ago as Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains. Pretty, simple songs which nevertheless were absolutely littered with hooks.
In that instance he decided to attach his knack with a melody to fairly straightforward, foot-to-the-floor pop rock. Yours To Discover heads in a slightly less rocky and slightly more poppy direction, with a particular tendency towards something a bit ’80s. Courtesy of both a selection of whooshing synths and a number of choruses big enough, sequinned enough and shoulder-padded enough to remind you of Hot Fuss-era The Killers.
And that’s not even mentioning the handclaps. Oh! The handclaps. The handclaps on The Streets Are Still A Mess are worth the price of admission on their own. Even if they weren’t, there would still be a load to look forward to: Grainger demonstrates his ability to channel the spirit of Prince (I Want Sebastien Grainger; Your Body Works), shows he can knock out the sort of funky Motown indebted numbers that now keep Daft Punk in gold-plated cyborg costumes (Let’s Move To NYC) and, most remarkably of all, Some People Are Ghosts Too Soon, on which Grainger demonstrates his ability to dust down the emaciated corpse of John Parr‘s theme to St Elmo’s Fire, dress it in a spangly new jacket and make it throw shapes on the dancefloor. Really. Honestly.
Sebastien Grainger is yours to discover. And he is likeable. Very, very likeable.