Sebastien Grainger: pop singer. Who would’ve thought? It sounds unlikely, until you carefully revisit the artist’s output up to this point. That reevaluation reveals that Grainger has always been partial to a good hook, whether in his solo output or with Death From Above 1979. It’s just that he tended to bury it under layers of distorted chaos. Of course, those were still rock songs, and though there are a few fist-pumpers on Yours to Discover, Grainger seems much more indebted to the realms of pop, soul, funk, and glam.
The guy’s knowingly aping Michael Jackson’s vocalizations on “Your Body Works”, a fevered “whoo!” rising forth from a series of punchy oohs, uhns, and ahs. Across the whole album, this shift in approach enthralls, especially when he starts channeling Prince with an eyebrow-scorching guitar solo halfway through “Let’s Move to NYC”. It’s that electric guitar that anchors Yours to Discover (somewhat amusing considering Grainger built his career on a drum and bass band), as Grainger layers catchy party anthems like “Going With You” and “The Streets Are Still a Mess” with the sort of fanged textures you won’t find in much of modern pop.
It’s a shame, then, that the back half feels somewhat toothless. By the time the Bowie-esque “I Don’t Believe in Ghosts” and penultimate track “Some People Are Ghosts Too Soon” roll around, it’s hard not to pine for the raucous bark of his earlier works, the Death From Above 1979 tracks that rattled speakers and emptied bowels. That energy was always able to sustain his heavier efforts, even through less-than-stellar songs. Here, though, by stripping away the static and placing himself front and center, Grainger’s got nowhere to hide. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and, on the whole, this bold, unexpected approach suits him well, there are moments that simply don’t sustain interest. Grainger has always been an animated, charismatic, and divisive figure in the indie rock world, and Yours to Discover is no exception.
Essential Tracks: “Going With You”, “Let’s Move to NYC”, and “Waking Up Dead”