Out: June 17th 2014
Toronto’s Greys unleash their debut album, If Anything, a multi-dimensional and uncompromising lesson in youthful indestructability with an articulate pure punk edge.
One benefit of getting older is how new bands channel aspects of the bands you loved in your youth into something new and exciting, while somewhat familiar. This is how a few albums in the last few months that have come to score perfect 10s for me – which is something that has happened less than a handful of times for me since the mid-2000s.
Greys awesome debut LP, If Anything, made me feel young again, but through an expression of a different form of angst – perhaps being a bit older and not being where you’d hoped to be (whether it was realistic or not) frustrated, but certainly not resigned. The lyrics are sincere and relatable, and despite the ruckus you can understand what is being said! The anthemic “Use Your Delusion” is a prime example of the lyrical strength of If Anything. The song expresses the ways one wants to “be somebody else and just go. JUST GO”. While thinking being different in all the ways we think would solve our problems may be somewhat delusional, as the title suggests it can also drive and motivate.
Featuring changes in pace and emotion which seamlessly bridge distinct sections of songs, If Anything illustrates Greys aren’t one dimensional guys that ‘rip’ – though this ability is no small feat, and they haven’t compromised on this factor. They can be expressive eloquently or aggressively as they choose, and they opt for a balance between the two.
The intensity is consistent throughout the 11 solid tracks, though the pace varies to suit different parts and feels, trajectories or tangents within songs. The tracks seem to fall into two categories for me, alternating throughout the album. First there are the harder, faster, straight-up ones where that appreciation for pop sensibility is apparent, but while maintaining the integral rock. These songs includes the epic opener, “Guy Picciotto”, which sounds like a single should. It’s catchy and innocently expresses admiration of the Fugazi member, while conveying a sense of youthful indestructibility. There’s the poignant crunchiness of “Use your Delusion” and the relentless “Adderrall”, with its pure punk chorus, represents the bombs going off in a troubled mind well.
The punchy, speedy “Brain Dead” is balanced by the last minute of the song which settles into melodic bliss, but then manages to integrate the heavy smoothly with a ferocious outtro. It is this structuring that is common to many of the second type of track on If Anything, that is a real strength. Ample noise and the appropriate corresponding vocal style are stitched together with lucid stretches, slower paces and more melodic singing. “Cold Soak,” “Girl in landscape” and “Flip Yer Lid” work in this manner, as do “Lull” and “Pretty Grim,” with its unexpected turn of events into almost a whole other, more positive track at 2:15, and a nice transition back to a roaring conclusion.
If Anything sounds like the next chapter in Greys’ sound. It has the unhindered energy of the band’s Easy Listening and Drift EPs, but with added layers of depth, proving the band’s songwriting skills. It showcases the expressive talents they did on “Dodgson” (split with Beliefs) – which was a telling precursor in a way, as this album could be described as a mix of that sound with the sound Greys were known for previously.
To read about what the guys have to say about the album, please see my recent interview with the band here.
18/6 Toronto, ON @ Smiling Buddha 20/6 Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern 24/6 Windsor, ON @ Phog Lounge 25/6 Grand Rapids, MI @ Mulligan’s Pub 26/6 Milwaukee, WI @ Ground Zero 27/6 Chicago, IL @ The Observatory 28/6 Minneapolis, MN @ Gen’s Dental Office 29/6 Winnipeg, MB @ Union Sound Hall 30/6 Saskatoon, SK @ Vangelis Tavern 1/7 Edmonton, AB @ Wunderbar 2/7 Calgary, AB @ TBA 4/7 Vancouver, BC @ Cobalt 6/7 Seattle, WA @ Black Lodge 7/7 Portland, OR @ Habesha Lounge 9/7 Oakland, CA @ Eli’s Mile High 10/7 San Francisco, CA @ Honey Hive Gallery 11/7 Fresno, CA @ Cafe Infoshop 13/7 Los Angeles, CA @ The Crest 14/7 Riverside, CA @ Blood Orange Infoshop 15/7 San Diego, CA @ Che Cafe 16/7 Phoeniz, AZ @ 51West 18/7 Salt Lake City, UT @ Shred Shed 19/7 Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall 20/7 Kansas City, MO @ Vandals 21/7 Lawrence, KS @ Replay Lounge 22/7 St. Louis, MO @ Lemp Arts 23/7 Nashville, TN @ Stone Fox 25/7 Kalamazoo, MI @ Cooper Mansion 26/7 Toronto, ON @ SHIBGBs
All words by Lisa Sookraj, find her Louder Than War archive here.