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Grandchildren – Golden Age

on May 08, 2013, 12:00am
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The title and cover art of Philadelphia six-piece Grandchildren’s sophomore LP Golden Age imply – okay, they flat out declare – a revisiting of ‘60s and ‘70s Western culture, that magically forward-thinking era you may have lamented showing up too late for while re-watching your Woodstock DVD every night between 13 and 16. Don’t be fooled; the sounds on this album hearken back to no time earlier than the 21st century, unless you’re really stretching for it. But that’s not where the connection lies anyway.

Golden Age will reach ears that hardly flinch at electronics, brass, and looping techniques coexisting on a melodic rock album like they would have in your grandparents’ day. Spend some time with it, though, and you can imagine how they might have felt the first time they experienced music that sounded truly uninhibited.

Golden Age has few recurring sonic elements, jumps wildly between ideas, and hardly provides a discernible lead vocalist. Xylophone and electric guitar sharing the fore on opener “Sunrise”? Check. Immediately following that up with staccato organ and pinched synth lines leading the title track? Done. Lower-end tom beats and tenor sax down the line on “Into Gold”? Yes, because they can. It’s all impressively risky, sure, but does it reward? The replay value requires a couple of things: some sort of ear for harmony, and the utmost confidence that the feeling will remain universal, even when the sounds are not. Golden Age almost never forgets to bring both.

Furthermore, the few reference points that are detectable here aren’t sleepers – specifically the clattering percussion and emphatic, unhurried harmonies recalling Local Natives’ 2010 debut Gorilla Manor and, especially, Animal Collective’s 2005 album Feels (frontman Aleks Martray even breaks out a dead-ringer Avey Tare yelp on “Forward”). Yet these albums’ common denominator isn’t in any sound so much as a basic instinct to bang on stuff and yell out, if for nothing more than the sheer thrill of creating something both gratifying and unpredictable. A “golden age” is in the mind, Grandchildren argue. Unrestrained enthusiasm knows no decade.

Essential Tracks: “Sunrise”, “Where’s the Knife”, and “You Never Know”.


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