Grand Archives - The Grand Archives
The Grand Archives' sound is not exactly what you would call in any way unique. Their forebears seem to be the sixties American male vocal harmony groups such as the Beach Boys, America and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Their modern interpretation of that sunshine pop style is bright and airy but without the often naïve and simplistic lyrical content which may be said to have bedevilled the genre. The lyrics display a greater depth and imagery, such as this one from "Index Moon":
"The index moon was red / I was thinking about a friend, train whistles blowing./ Echoing out a past, splintered wood and ash / The bells were all ringing out loud."
As a consequence, one can appreciate the The Grand Archives on several different levels - as a companion to summer; as thoughtful, slightly melancholic wordscapes; even as an introduction to how a range of instruments can contribute to the sound. Yes, that's right, the Grand Archives make use of more than what you would expect from the usual indie band and in this respect follow in the footsteps of Arcade Fire and even Duke Special. The opening track, "Torn Blue Foam Couch", leads with a harp and then easily combines some startling horn passages with a pleasant-sounding piano line. In the next track, "Miniature Birds" the band moves on to cheery whistle-while-you-work and breezy harmonica pieces. The aptly titled "Breezy No Breezy" is a mixture of alt-country and folk in its instrumental format.
My favourite track is the engaging "Sleepdriving", with its catchy chorus which is guaranteed to have you singing along, while a close second goes to "Crime Window" which is the closest the band come to a true indie rocker. Yet there are also surprises on this album, in the two, dare I say, biographical tracks, "George Kaminski" and "Louis Riel". I had to look up both of these, only to find that the former is a Japanese anime character and the latter is a Canadian folk-hero-cum-resistance-fighter and the founder of Manitoba. Well, you learn something new every day.
This album is not going to appeal to everyone's taste. It is a languid yet engaging alternative to standard American indie-pop which says more about the band than about the listener. But if you want to listen to an album which is clearly intended to be what the band wanted, irrespective of whether anyone else agreed, then you couldn't do worse than check this out.
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