London-based H.Grimace’s debut album Self Architect is a moody, complex collection of songs. The kind of short, unapologetically post-punk songs that work well as instrumentals as well as providing the sonic backdrops for lyrical and poetic musings; all of which feature here to decent effect and all of which are threaded with a lush take on the classic garage-band sound.
While perhaps not an entirely convincing selection of songs, there is a high standard of playing here which would suggest at the very least that there is ‘something’ here. Track after track promises so much … but that’s not to say that there aren’t some little beauties in there. Opening track ‘Thoroughbred’ comes out swinging, buoyed by a Joy Division-esque bassline with its immediate impact bolstered by the contrasting ‘Land/Body’ – a simmering, more atmospheric accompaniment. We get to hear the band stretch their legs on the recently released single ‘Call It Out’, a punk-y little freight-train of a song that is simultaneously understated and full on.
‘2.1 Woman’ is a spoken word track punctuated by an eerie chorus. The unmistakable Irish accent genuinely instills a naturally lyrical flow to the words while an stuttering bass line skips around it.; you can almost hear the garage walls in this song. Its tight, clipped guitar licks piercing through the baffle. ‘Lipsyncer’, for all of its charm, is possibly a law-suit-in-waiting from Pixies.
The album’s eponymous track is a frantic series of gut-punches and highlights a raft of influences from The Jam, PJ Harvey to MC5 and beyond. It is possibly the most tell-tale track on the album because of its lack of self-awareness – this is a good thing. It sounds like it was written and rehearsed in a dingy, sweaty, low-ceilinged rehearsal room and managed to encapsulate that sound perfectly. There is no gloss anywhere.
‘Excavations’ and ‘Jockey’, the former being an instrumental, are forceful little statements of intent from the band. Both ostensibly featuring call-and-response guitar chops and some lovely, tense drumming, these tracks perhaps best define what the band are about. The album’s payoff, however, is the outstanding ‘Royal Hush’. The ultimate garage band track in its essence, it is both serious and engaging and stands to reason that it closes the collection. At over 5 minutes long it seems like an epic in comparison with the brevity of all the other tracks. All in all this album marks a strong debut and has enough personality to hold its own.