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Grand National
A Drink And A Quick Decision
Recall Group
www.grandnationalmusic.us


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 and Tiesto.

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.

-Susan Frances


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