After touring relentlessly overseas and recording in New York, at long last The Griswolds have their lively pop debut album for us, ‘Be Impressive’. It is full of the unstoppable brightness you would hope for from the Sydney four-piece, as well as plenty of happy surprises. There is more electro influence, less guitar rock. More punch, less pucker, and a hell of a lot more 80’s synth than anticipated, and that’s no bad thing. Inspiring a sweet-natured teenage exuberance in a Jinja Safari-meets-MGMT celebration, ‘Be Impressive’ will have you singing along whether you know the words or not, head tossed back, barefoot and probably on someone’s shoulders.
After winning the Triple J Unearthed competition to appear at Parklife in 2012, The Griswolds began gaining traction not only on Australian radio but overseas. The energetic, harmless rascalry of their music is contagious, and after starting out as a bunch of guys having fun in their loungeroom in Sydney they signed with Wind-Up records, diving straight into the deep end. Recording in the Big Apple doesn’t seem to have dulled their homegrown tone, however, with the same joyful sound that first garnered them attention two years ago splattered across their new release.
The get-you-going group vocals and chants that featured on their breakout tracks Mississippi and Heart of a Lion are still alive and well on ‘Be Impressive’, featuring heavily on the first single from the album, Beware the Dog. With the sort of lyrics you’d love to yell at your ex, Beware the Dog is infectiously, indubitably catchy and singalong material of the highest calibre. In a similar vein, If You Wanna Stay and Down and Out are rousing calls to dance, an eclectic mix of electronic smash and colourful pop vocals. But don’t be fooled. What is impressive about the album is the way in which the boys have woven darker concepts into their sound and the subtle change of tone that slips in on the tail end of the album.
With deeply personal lyrics about addiction, loss, core insecurities and the trials and triage of difficult relationships, Christopher Whitehalland Danny Duque-Perez have masked pain and vulnerability in upbeat electro riffs and deep synth. Following the youthful title track, Live This Nightmare is a change of pace that highlights Whitehall’s vocal variation and the groovier electronic styling the band is branching into. ‘Be Impressive’ packs a lot in, is heavily layered and compact with a crowd of instruments featuring on each track. It’s good to hear some contrast as the album winds down, with Thread the Needle pulling right back in terms of instrumentation and tempo to highlight the other side of The Griswold’s frenetic energy. This feeling culminates with the album closer Not Read Anymore, a sweet, simpler song that reveals the insecurity of a young band releasing a debut album, finding their sound and making a go of it away from home. It’s stripped back from the electronic elements of the rest of the album, and reminds us of why we loved The Griswolds in the first place.
The Griswolds are touring the album in September and October. This is music made for warm weather, dry grass under bare feet and good friends. With plenty of electronic bounce and clean-cut youthful energy, ‘Be Impressive’ is a strong debut for the Sydney boys who just wanted to make music people could sing along to.
The Griswolds are on tour now!
Thurs 25 Sept – Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC
Fri 26 Sept – Karova Lounge, Ballarat VIC
Sat 27 Sept – Zierholz @ UC, Canberra ACT
Sat 4 Oct – Yours & Owls 4th Birthday, Wollongong NSW
Thurs 9 Oct – Small Ballroom, Newcastle NSW
Sat 11 Oct – Metro Theatre, Sydney NSW
Fri 17 Oct – Jive, Adelaide SA
Sat 18 Oct – Amplifier Bar, Perth WA
Thurs 23 Oct – The Brightside, Brisbane QLD
Fri 24 Oct – Solbar, Maroochydore QLD
Sat 25 Oct – The Spotted Cow, Toowoomba QLD
Sun 26 Oct – ‘Byron Bay Surf Festival’ @ Beach Hotel, Byron Bay