Grandkids are back again five months after their release of the self titled EP. For lovers of a commonly featured track on WPGU, “Ethylene,” you might be a little disappointed; this record traded the fast pace and food analogies for melodic guitar riffs and deeper comparisons to the outside world.
Sister Walls opens up with the new single “Where’s My Tribe,” a folky song about longing that solidly captures this new path musically. Vivian McConnell still carries tons of emotion in her voice that only gets accentuated when the multitudes of strings this band is known for are no longer center stage. Albeit Metz’s hypnotizing riff patterns are still a major player in the song, he doesn’t lead the sound of the band.
“Clocktower” and “As the Gull Flies” show a more brooding side of the band. The plethora of instrumentation that we’ve grown accustomed to is turned down to minimalistic guitar and even less cello. The entirety of these songs are held together by the rich lyricism that flows throughout all of Grandkids’ music and with a beat that is comparable to a post rock movement, it seems they are really trying to evolve past their first EP.
A brief orchestral instrumentation that bisects aforementioned songs, “Sussex by the Sea,” is a welcome interlude. Including additional violin by Illinois grad Rachel Wittrig, it captures an entirely new feeling that was never otherwise explored by Grandkids. Inserted between “Clocktower” and “As the Gull Flies,” the album becomes broken up into movements instead of a collection of songs with eloquent analogies. “Geese” ends this EP on a high note. A happy, upbeat two minute closer captures that initial energy that made Grandkids so much fun to listen to before. Now with a little more experience, it feels like that feeling was refined a bit into something that has also progressed to this second production.
Sister Walls overall is a more mature creation from Grandkids. While I am sad to see songs like “Gnats” and “Ethylene” removed from the roster, it is great to see bands exploring new styles. Call this album a “post-Grandkids” sound, because it definitely is or at least until their next collection of recordings hits bandcamp. Listen to this album in entirety; each member tweaked their sound enough to create something different from what you are used to, but not something unfamiliar enough to turn you off.
WPGU Music Staff Rating: W-P-½
Recommended if you like: Andrew Bird, Santah and Elsinore.
W = Poor
W-P = Fair
W-P-G = Great
W-P-G-U = An instant classic!