Nottingham, home of Tindersticks; a city steeped in folklore, and old time glory. Michael A Grammar are based in The Lace City and I imagine they have high hopes for Vitamin Easy, a slow burning four track EP which hints at limitless potential, as opposed to the potential of greatness, though much depends on if they can truly shake of the shackles of their obvious influences. When names like Joy Division, Broadcast, Bowie and the Stone Roses get banded about, expectation is inevitably high, although at the same time such antique names bring to mind intense angry young men in tight fitting grey shirts that talk monosyllabically and refuse to make eye contact.
Introspective shoegaze seems relevant, as people retreat inwards on bus journeys and long walks home, with white wires dangling into inside jacket pockets. Many people meekly withdraw into the company of their own diluted inner prattle, soundtracked by adolescent favourites and current mid-tier buzzbands. To listen, and truly appreciate Michael A Grammar, you really have to be somewhere desolate, and turn it up loud; a cliff top, perhaps, looking out over the North Sea, though don’t stand too close to the edge.
‘Upside Down’ is very Berlin-like, atmospheric in its opening - a mysterious fog descends over the Trent, before the boy chants a calming mantra of “take it easy on yourself” that wraps itself around the meandering stalactite chords. ‘All Night Afloat’ is a looser affair, frog eyed and chastening, the sound of young men caught in the throes of passion; yes, the singer sounds like a more coherent Ian Brown on this track, but the profound sense of euphoria stands proud in its own right. Rejoice! The second coming is upon us.
‘Light Of A Darkness’ is the most impressive song on the EP, a moody simmering rage that emerges from the cigarette in a pitch black alley. There is a morose menace apparent, as echoing melodies roll into a tuneful breakdown. ‘King and Barnes’ ends things on a Krautrock note, pummelling ponderous drumming, and mildly distressed vocals recall some of the recent pseudo-serious work of The Horrors.
Knowingly atmospheric, Michael A Grammar have gone out of their way to record a certain sound which pricks up the ears of eager tastemakers. However their technical proficiency, and the remarkable fact that they’ve managed to capture such rich, gorgeous textures on their debut EP means that they're doing far more than merely ticking hipster boxes.
7Richard Wink's Score