John Grant: Grey Tickles, Black Pressure – album review

John GrantJohn Grant: Grey Tickles, Black Pressure (Bella Union)

LP | CD | DL

Out: 9th October 2015


John Grant’s best work to date, an absolutely incredible album, from his humour to the unnerving themes, it’s the perfect record.

John Grant is an artist revered by many, an incredible songwriter and master of accessible, orchestrated electro pop songs. His new album Grey Tickles, Black Pressure (roughly translated as Mid-Life, Nightmare) sees him moodier and angrier this time around, but with sporadic injections of humour and positivity, it’s an intriguing listen from the outset.

From the biblical quote that opens and closes the album, it moves from harsh whirling electronics through to a sweet closing innocence. Grant has never been an artist to shy away from controversial themes and Grey Tickles, Black Pressure is no different. The title track alone has him discussing his healthcare needs and how he cannot compete with those of others.

At times it’s an unnerving listen. His direct approach leaves little to the imagination as he unleashes a barrage of darkness. The caustic lyrics are augmented by sharp electronics, the pounding motorik beats fizzing with digital distortion provide the perfect undertone and while they compound the bleak atmosphere, this proves to be one of the record’s strongest aspects.

With songs about mental health and particularly depression, Grant offers a sympathetic ear and positivity. Voodoo Doll is a rare uplifting moment that distracts from the misery, as are the moments of humility interspersed throughout. His feelings conveyed in Magma Arrives are a stark contrast, the bleak outlook firmly to the fore as he explains “your face will melt, right off your skeleton.”

Grey Tickles, Black Pressure is a lot funkier than his past works, and he continues to push the boundaries and the themes are controversial and unsettling. Yet the lyrical content is incredible, as John Grant confims himself as one of the greatest songwriters of our generation. Definitely his finest angriest and moodiest work and undoubtedly his best – a masterpiece from start to finish!


John Grant can be found online here He is also on Facebook and tweet as @JohnWGrant.

All words by Lee Hammond. You can check out more work by Lee at his Louder Than War author’s archive, he also tweets as @Napzap.

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  1. I bought this album on the day it came out, and have now listened to it about 8-10 times. Unless it’s a massive grower, it is easily the weakest of his four albums to date (including the “Live In Concert”). Few other reviews I have seen have been particularly positive, and I am puzzled how your review can be so out of kilter with everyone else.

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