Album Review: The Griswolds – Be Impressive
Six Months, One Week, and six days, that’s how long it’s been from the day I first pledged to make The Griswolds first full-length album happen to when it finally appeared in my inbox. Now looking back at all the pledges I’ve made on PledgeMusic, it wasn’t the longest I waited for a pay off but it felt like it, mostly because all I’ve had to sustain me during that time was a 4 track EP which just wasn’t enough.
I am happy to report that it was well worth the wait. There was no doubt in my mind that the Aussie foursome would deliver but it was very reassuring when the guys released “Beware the Dog”. The single, which was released in May, was not only a perfect glimpse of the album to come, but also a great way to prepare for summer. It was easy to close my eyes and let the tropical sound help conjure images of beautiful blue water and white sand as I bopped along to the infectious beat. It took me a few listens to realize that the subject matter wasn’t as bright as the sound. “She used to suck the life out of me / We used to joke and it felt like home / But now it’s all just hazy / We used to walk where the wild things grow / But now we’re fucking crazy.” It might just be the most upbeat and fun song about losing a friend to heavy drug use I’ve ever heard.
If “Beware the Dog” doesn’t get stuck in your head for the rest of the summer, there are plenty of other tracks on Be Impressive that will. Album opener, “16 Years”, uses heavy synths and samples and catchy oohs and ahhs that will crawl into your head and stay there long into the winter. You won’t have time to breathe as the opening harmonies and reverbs of “Right on Track” pick up right where “16 Years” left off, they bounce off of each other, exploding out of your speakers before finally falling away so that Christopher Whitehall’s lyrics break through.
But Be Impressive isn’t all sunshine and palm trees. The most emotional and weakest track, “Thread the Needle”, relies on swelling strings and nostalgic 90’s references will try to appeal to your sensitive side but fall a bit flat. Thankfully the guys rebound quickly, returning to booming percussion and shiny piano harmonies in “Aurora Borealis”. While the track is still more subdued than the rest of the album, it’s still a great little piece of summer that these Aussies are quickly becoming famous for.
While The Griswolds aren’t putting anything new out into the world that acts like MGMT and Vampire Weekend haven’t done before, it’s nice to see them put out something that takes a step beyond what they did on their Heart of a Lion EP. There are so many catchy hooks and danceable tracks filling Be Impressive that it’s nearly impossible for it not to become a huge hit. I know I’ll be returning the album to help me think of warm summer days when the cold winter months start to set in.