Gravity Won't Get You High
First Appeared in The Music Box, January 2007, Volume 14, #1
Written by Melissa Stroh
For such a young band, The Grates appears to have everything in order: a cool name, a unique sound, and a new outing that stands out among the monotony of indie rock outfits. After releasing its EP The Ouch. The Touch in 2005, the trio quickly returned to the studio to record its full-length follow-up Gravity Wonít Get You High with producer Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine). Globally released in 2006, the album is a fusion of different genres, all of which are linked together by vocalist Patience Hodgson, drummer Alana Skyring, and guitarist John Patterson.
Gravity Wonít Get You High begins with the familiar I Wonít Survive, though the brevity of the track serves as a false start to the quirky affair. After the ethereal opening, The Grates tries to obtain its footing with a slew of upbeat, bouncy ska-tinged tunes, but by swerving in an entirely different direction at the albumís midpoint, the band makes the eclectic outing confusing and difficult to grasp. It isnít until Science Is Golden that The Grates finds its niche. For most listeners, the song is situated too deeply into the endeavor to matter, but for those with more patience, there are, at least, a few other gems to be found in the setís latter half.
Sultry, sexy songs, such as Felt Like Pain, seduce the listener with simple chords, dramatic vocals, and minimal lyrics. Hodgson screeches repeatedly, "I thought I heard you laugh yesterday/It felt like pain." Her impressive, emotional vocals bring the listener into the desperation of the tune, while ultimately providing a release for Hodgson as well. On the other hand, during Nothing Sir, The Grates tries too hard to create a fantasy landscape. Hodgson sings about a place where blow dryers chase away grey clouds and sushi jumps onto your plate. Itís a good effort, but there simply arenít enough vivid, lush descriptions to plant a lasting image in the listenerís mind.
Gravity Wonít Get You Highís chaotic ruminations conclude with I Am Siam, a mellow, acoustic song that would have been better served had it been left as an instrumental passage. Once again, The Grates strives to pen poignant lyrics in a minimalist fashion, but it fails horribly, which leaves Hodgson singing the same lines repeatedly. In truth, her impressive vocals canít save this muddled mess of a debut album. The Grates needs to go back to the drawing board and make vast improvements to its approach to songwriting before it ventures forth to torture any more ears.
Gravity Won't Get You High is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box