By Mandi Kimes
Oakland-based Grumsling is an “indie rock band;” yet I would categorize them more in the “alternative rock” category. When I think of indie rock, I think Death Cab for Cutie or Coldplay, and these guys have a more Red Hot Chili Peppers or Nirvana sound to them. Grumsling is the name of the character, or mascot, of the band, that they eventually hope to someday incorporate into graphic novels or films.
“Whiskey” starts with an echoey guitar and reverberated synths. The drums carry a steady beat reminiscent of El Ten Eleven. I think this track would be better if the vocals had a reverby effect on them, similar to the rest of the instrumentation. Also, it may just be the choir kid in me, but it also annoys me when people don’t disconnect their words. The chorus repeats “You’re like home,” but it sounds like he’s saying “You’re like comb,” and my ears can’t escape it.
“Skyline” starts with a mellow drum-and-bass line with some subtle guitar licks. The singer comes in speak-sings, and then later harmony is introduced over his speak-singing. The chorus picks up the song as the singer begins to actually sing and synths are introduced. I feel like they could’ve come up with a better way to implement the following lyrics: “And the rain falls down // Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip ,drip, drip // And it sounds like // Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.” The repetition is a bit too much for my taste.
“Downtime” starts abruptly and without holding back; whereas “SGS” slows things down a bit. The tune still maintains its rock roots with tingy guitar and subtle crash cymbals and a bouncing bass line. The singer’s voice is best suited for this type of 90s-throwback rock. And “Gnab Gib” (which I now realize is "big bang" backwards) begins with a fuzzy bell-like synth. The singer is welcomed with more voices all singing in unison, as if its a small chorus. The keys play a blissful melody in the second half before being cut off by guitars.
“Bailout Part 2” (where was Part 1?) might be my favorite track on the record. It creates a gap between the hard rock elements of the past few songs and introduces a more hushed sound from the band with its atmospheric guitar tones, bell synths, and whispered vocals. I hate to say that it resembles the XX, because I don’t like the XX and I like this, but it has the same vibe. It’s definitely a breath of fresh air.
The album ends with “Revolutions,” and it sounds like a different singer has entered the scene and the speak-singing continues. This track lacks the excitement or intensity that most ending tracks need to really put the album to rest (except in the bridge). But overall, I’d say that this album, while both aurally pleasurable to listen at some points and not, was an alright listen.