The last time Groom released an album, 2010’s Marriage, they had just been critically deemed to be ‘genre-smashing’. No doubt, through flicking over reviews, this term stuck in the minds of this band of merry men, for genre-smashing is an adjective that seems to attach itself a great deal to Bread and Jam. Their new album proving to be just as hard to pigeon-hole as its predecessor.
Recorded live over a single weekend, on the rather archaic means of a 2-inch tape, its songs match the rough and readiness of its conception. Warm, multi-layered and jittery, its a sound that appeals to our most cardinal desire, the foot tap. The soundscape that is created with the process is matched only by the lively spitting vernacular of Michael Stevens, which bounces from track to track. The chorus of ‘Colours’ gleams brightly through the static keyboards, sounding thrillingly like a hit record. This counterpoint between lively instruments and punchy lyrics has potential to sound worryingly like a Nirvana tribute act when in incompetent hands. Through slotting in raging guitars with pristine keyboards, and a whitewash of Stevens lyrical talents however, not even an iota of a spotty heart shaped box is apparent. Though the age old battle between instruments and vocals rages on, most particularly in ‘Charlie O’Loughlin Fuk That Shit’ the band’s rhythm compensates for this clamour with incredible success.
While musically Bread and Jam appears to gravitate towards the likes of the The Kinks and The Rolling Stones, lyrically it pins itself down, to the here and the now. Identifying themselves firmly with their surroundings, “at the Santry exit, near Beaumont Hospital” to be specific, ultural references run as green as the river Liffey and succeed in capturing the banality of Irish life, that could only ever be lent to an Irish ear. With the track ‘Ronan agus Aine, Ca Bhfuil Tu?’ littered with broken Irish and name dropping Peg Sayers, whether spitting or drowning in lyrics (which, at times, seem slightly indulgent), Stevens’ voice remains distinctively Irish.
In parts ragged and grungey, in some, light and rockabilly, this album encompasses the various strains of rock and roll in one compact 11-track album. Groom prove themselves to be far above the one dimensional bands, that pedal their wears so effectively, with this album. The band are hard to pin down, hard to find fault with and are creating a fresh product, that although have influences appear to share no contemporaries. As the title suggests, Groom produce the bread, the butter and also some delectable jams with this album.