Iceland's adopted singer-songmeister John Grant is back with an album of bitterness and bile set to a singular soundtrack of fierce beats and lush orchestrations. What's not to like?
BY DEE IVA
John Grant is a firm Fizz favourite. His mix of folksy rock, heart-rending ballads and spiky electronica peppered with cutting diva-ish lyrics make him a formidable force to be reckoned with. His last outing 'Pale Green Ghosts' was a perfect slice of contemporary pop music accompanied by equally arresting cover artwork showing Grant glowering at the viewer from a spartan café.
The cover of new album 'Grey Tickles, Black Pressure' ups the fear factor as Anton Kaldal Ágústsson’s artwork takes on an eerie Village Of The Damned vibe. A smiling sightless Grant sits with a pair of eerie blind owls on the cover only to appear as an expressionless blood-splattered murderer on the inside sleeve. This air of menace is softened somewhat by pictures of kitschy animals and figurines which in this context begs the question ‘Is John Grant railing at suburbia?’.
On opening track ‘Intro’ overlapping voices intone poetry against a wall of sci-fi B-movie sound effects setting us up for a journey into Grant’s personal twilight zone. ‘Snug Slacks’ and ‘You & Him’ employ treated vocals and insistent synth soundscapes. ‘Voodoo Doll’ is certifiable death disco funk while ‘Disappointing’, featuring guest vocalist Tracey Thorn, is Grant's most likely contender for a top ten hit to date. So to paraphrase Bette Davis, fasten your seat belts as you’re in for one hell of a ride…
'Grey Tickles, Black Pressure' is out now on Bella Union