It’s fair to say Grover are to the Birmingham music scene what bread and water is to a staple diet. They’re everpresents. All too often taken for granted, but you’d be lost without them. Slipping 'Tiny Blue Sparks' into the CD drawer and pressing the play button is much like shaking hands with an old friend and realising just what a great bloke they really are.
The opening strains of 'Meltdown' weave a hypnotic wash similar in effect to the dreamy glide guitar of Kevin Shields, but by the time it merges into 'With My Eyes Wide Shut I Can See The Universe' and 'I Await Your Letters And Sendings', Grover are charting territory on which they are kings.
The traditional post-rock quiet/loud tactic is bolstered with an ear for melody that's missing all too often in a genre that seems infatuated with obscurity and making it an uneasy ride for the listener. On 'Tunnel Boat Song', the trio venture to the edge of Radiohead’s sombre elegance before erupting into a crescendo reminiscent of Mogwai’s Young Team era.
The full time arrival of former Godflesh bassist and long-time studio collaborator Steve Hough has beefed up the band's sound and they’re now capable of reaching elements they’d previously only hinted at. The dynamics now sound bigger and bolder than in previous recordings and yet masterfully controlled.
The beauty about Grover is the ability to change gear in an instant, from crushingly brutal walls of white noise to 'Kid A' style brass wig-outs on 'Longitude:Latitude' and then to the other extreme on the poignant piano of 'A Simple Misunderstanding' and 'Supersonic Sonar Radar’s glistening ambient-rock.
The impressive quality oozed from 'Tiny Blue Sparks' should hardly be a surprise to anyone who’s had the pleasure of witnessing Grover in the live arena over the past few years during which they’ve been gradually digging their fingernails into the consciousness of anyone with half an ounce of taste thanks to a string of captivating performances. Just ask John Peel who included a white label of the album in his record box at the turn of the year as well as providing substantial support and airplay.
It seems strange to say it of a band that have been such an important and underrated cog in the Birmingham scene - and indeed British independent music as a whole - for so long, but Grover have finally come of age.
8Andy Robbins's Score