Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Album Review: Eight Nights by Grand-Pop (by Emma Prew)

Grand-Pop are somewhat of a powerpop punk supergroup with members from The Attika State (Warren, guitar and vocals), Attack! Vipers! (Tom, bass) and Caves (Lou, drums and vocals). Each of those bands have quite different sounds so it’s certainly going to be interesting to hear what music they can create together! Eight Nights is Grand-Pop’s debut album which has been a little while in the making – originally written in 2012 and ’13, before finally being recorded in 2015 and ’16. Eight Nights features 8 songs – hence the title, I imagine – and is out now on Specialist Subject Records in the UK and Discos Finu in Spain/Europe.

Drop Trow is the first song on Eight Nights and it does a great job of introducing the sound of Grand-Pop, who for most, me included, are a fairly new band – loud, bright powerpop to get your head nodding along to. The guitar, bass and drums are all pretty loud with Warren’s vocals remaining able to carry over the top – a good song to wake you up in the morning, especially if your head is feeling at all fuzzy! The second song, High Hopes, starts out with drums before a neat little guitar riff once again gets your head nodding. Warren sings the opening line – ‘I’ve found a way, A way of holding on…’ – with elongated ‘way’ and ‘on’s, which I’m figuring out is theme of his singing style. You’ve got to have a pretty good voice to be able to do that sort of thing and still sound good, I think anyway, and this man certainly does. Warren isn’t the only vocalist in Grand-Pop as Lou also lends backing vocals on Eight Nights and this starts to become apparent on the chorus – ‘…And I’m leaning on and falling off, With a space for my high hopes, High hopes, Holding on.’ They are only subtle backing vocals mind you so perhaps this is a taste of what is yet to come.

‘It’s my way back, It’s my way back, Oh-ee-oh oh-ee-oh oh-ee-oh, Woah-oh-oh-oh.’  is the opening line of track number three, Nova Scotia  which definitely lends itself to being a big live singalong. I mean, who doesn’t like screaming woah-ohs along with a band? The vocals seem more strained and urgent on this song, like Warren is really desperate to get away – and escape… to Nova Scotia. This is one of the shorter songs on the album and it needn’t be any longer as it gets straight to the point, which is sometimes just what a song needs to do. Nervous Nelly is next up and I would say that this is one of my favourites on the album. I mentioned earlier about Lou starting to be heard for backing vocals, well this is perhaps more apparent on Nervous Nelly. The verses are still sung by Warren but Lou joining the mix on the chorus adds another dynamic to the Grand-Pop sound. The screams of ‘Get up, Get up, And get up, Get up.’ by both singers really reminds me of RVIVR, another band with a great dynamic between their two vocalists – incidentally when we last saw RVIVR, at Fest 15, Lou played bass for them!

Nervous Nelly has a particularly good musical outro which leads into the next track, On and On. Melody is definitely one of the key components of a Grand-Pop song and is certainly evident by track number five. On and On is a song about returning to your hometown and seeing people from your past. There’s a sense of nostalgia but also the idea that you might meet up with people just ‘for old times’ sake’ – ‘The sentiment that keeps us stuck right here, In the same voice and dialect, That keeps us on and on and on and on… For old, For Old time’s sake’. All of the tracks on Eight Nights have been relatively poppy but the chorus of this next song, Saturday Night, is probably one of the catchiest on the record. I dare you to listen to the words, ‘To the sentimental, Woah-oh, Sentimental, Woah-oh, Sentimental, Woah-oh-oh’, and not be singing it ten minutes later. This is a band that loves a good woah-oh and there’s something incredibly feel-good about that.

The penultimate song of Eight Nights brings us into a place of intense emotional but in the best possible way. Soul Man is an energetic ride and is a great example of what Grand-Pop are all about. The chorus contains some of the stand out lyrics of the album and I can’t help but believe every single word – ‘You’re my soul man, And this is my heartbreak woah-oh-oh, I’d leave you if I fucking could, I’d leave you if I if I could.’ The majority of the song is quite full on with all band members and instruments at full volume but the end of the song is more stripped back, allowing the listener to take in all of Warren’s feelings for one more chorus. Only a few songs ago I mentioned how Grand-Pop love a bit of woah-oh-ing, well the final track on Eight Nights is simply titled Woah. I feel like the sound shifts a bit for this last song as the guitars sound a bit more distorted and more straightforwardly rocky – if that makes any sense. That said, it’s not long before the woah-ohs start – they had to really, given the song title – encouraging you to enjoy one last singalong with the band. The song definitely feels like an album, or even a set, closer with a long musical section in the middle of it that starts to slow the pace down. There haven’t really been many slow moments on this album and so it makes the last line of the song, and indeed Eight Nights as a whole, hit home all the more. ‘And I’m not, No I’m not, I’m not so invincible, If anything yeah these measures, They got bigger with time.’  

Grand-Pop describe their sound as being ‘somewhere between The Weakerthans, The Promise Ring and Weezer’ so if that, or any of my words above, connect with you then you can buy, download and stream Eight Nights now.

You can also find Grand-Pop on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.