The London, England duet Grand National offers neo-folk
textures and dance club trots on their sophomore album A Drink
And A Quick Decision, which follows their debut release Kicking
The National Habit. Their music is melodic with acoustic guitar
undertones and delightful chimes and synth effects that induce
folk musings like The Thrills with embellishments of synth-pop
circuitry and serried club beats. There are periods of Hot
Chip's thump-funk and Jatun-powered space rock in the
songs. The club beats and electro-pop glides show a new wave tinkering
reminiscent of Scritti Politti, Talk Talk, and Yaz
as the lounging voicing of lead singer and guitarist Rubert
Lyddon adds to the music's consonance and appeal generated
by synth maestro Lawrence La Rudd. It's music from the
public's collective consciousness burrowed in new wave's annals,
and yet there are contemporary treatments done to the synth barrages
that relate a modern mode. It's music for the dance club crowd
but there is also a contemplative feel in the music that allows
the listener to reflect on what they are hearing in the songs.
Numbers like "Reason To Hide In," "By The Time
I Get Home There Won't Be Much Of A Place For Me," and "Cut
By The Brakes," show space rock influences fossiled with
electro-pop panels and synth-pop carps. The neo-folk clusters
in songs like "Weird Ideas At Work" and "Tongue"
have inseams of club beats and smooth coasting vocals like Peter
Bjorn And John with electro-pop flambeaus. "Going To
Switch The Lights On" has a gypsy-dance groove pervading
from the rhythms and horn-tinted tones plodding along the melody,
whereas the tune "New Space To Throw" moves to a calypso-bongo
beating and shimmied synths winnowing the uptempo pivots. The
synth-based segments have charisma and a harmonious flow, which
also gives the songs a disadvantage causing them to sound similar.
The motley synth pastures display spangled patterns with a myriad
of variables that fall into a monotonous acid rock repetition
like the light funk steps on "Close Approximation",
having electro-pop clamps with a semblance to LCD Soundsystem
There are a few pop ballads like "Joker And Clown,"
"Pack All The Things," and "Part Of A Corner"
which have a sensory instinct for soft flowing melodic drifts.
The momentum is serene with cooling guitar strokes and dainty
breezy bass beats creating a neo-folk version of James Blunt.
The coffeehouse piano melody playing along on the final track
"Part Of A Corner" has a lounging tempo and a chillout
magnetism. The album displays nicely polished neo-folk tunage
that shows influences of new wave eloquence and present day electro-pop
stereo-glyphics. I found the album more entertaining than conveying
a cosmic or universal meaning, but the music could be very meaningful
for the band members whose songs allow the listener to hear the
lyrics with Lyddon's suave vocals, though most of the emphasis
is on the synth-pop esplanades and dance-club fixtures.
The English duet has made a fanciful club-pop album that fits
in any forum from large arenas to living room size nightclubs.
It is music for the enjoyment of the masses and revitalizes
what new wave artists were doing in the '80s. I may not be able
to decipher a cosmic meaning for the lyrics but the music has
a cosmic essence.
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