Ok. Reviewing this while giving it my first listen. ‘Grey Tickles, Black Pressure’ is Grant’s third solo album, released in 2015. While I was reading up on some lyrics from the album, I saw on http://www.genius.com that the Icelandic translation of ‘Grey Tickles, Black Pressure‘ is a ‘mid-life crisis/nightmare. That pretty much runs with the theme of Grant’s music, which is great because it’s so honest.
The ‘Intro’ and ‘Outro’ (I later discovered) contain experts from the First Epistle of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. The second track, ‘Sung Slacks’ starts much more like you’d expect from Grant. Not that he’s predictable, but it’s quirky and weird. Like him. The title track ‘Grey Tickles, Black Pressure’ comes in second and I’m not sure about it. Just a weird vibe and the lyrics don’t really get me going. ‘Guess How I Know’ keeps the volume and distortion going. It’s so God damn good but I’m on the train and if I start banging my head I might get some funny looks. The typically straight forward lyrics fit perfectly as Grant continues to make whatever music he wants. ‘You & Him’ starts out with some kind of quasar gun sound and Grant telling the character to get with Hitler. Standard really. Banging drums and some more distorted guitar keep up the frantic pace at which the album has started. ‘Down Here’ returns to an acoustic sound and I actually love it. It feels kind of 90’s or early 00’s and the lyrics seem to say that everything that will be will be. It’s also got some funky sax which really works.
‘Voodoo Doll’ starts as a song you think is going to be somewhat emotional, before it changes to a sound from the 80’s. When you here it you’ll understand, but Grant’s ability to change structures and sounds and make it work is more evident than ever so far in this album. “I’m so sick of people talking about the sun, they sound like a bunch of Aztec Indians” sings Grant in ‘Global Warming’ where he also complains that global warming is affecting his fair complexion. This is a type of love song but it also takes a dig at people making the most of global warming for themselves. ‘Magma Arrives’ is a solid track but its ‘Black Blizzard’ which comes in after that stands out. A sound NIN would be proud of and dark lyrics once again shows the strength of Grant to almost genre jump. Its hardcore electronica and his usual odd lyrics blended. “Souls will weather, crushing heats and bones”. What a track.
One of the best tracks I’ve heard in recent years is ‘Disappointing’. Its the 11th track on the album and is straight out of the top drawer. Grant lists all these fantastic things which he uses to compare to this character, including “ballet dancers with or without tights“. The song closes out with a type of Beverly Hills Cop sound just to make sure you know the song is fucking class. ‘No More Tangles’ is electroncia heavy and one of the longest tracks on the album. ‘Geraldine’ is sort of Massive Attack-ish and also quite long but both of these tracks are nevertheless excellent.We are seen out by ‘Outro’ which is similar to ‘Intro’.
In the trailer released for the album in which Grant goes through a little crazy episode and ends up over in blood, he described it as a fantasy of what he would like to do every time somebody calls him a faggot.
Grant’s music has always been a breath of fresh air. It’s somewhere to go when you’re ears are sore from hearing the same shit day in, day out. He’s got the balls to make the music he wants and to say what he wants. What he does say is actually important most of the time, just with a humorous and honest twist. The ever changing and layered songs make him a little under appreciated in my opinion, and he seems to be able to deliver quality albums that you can play straight through. There’s no album fillers and no song that seems like it was made just to be a single, there’s just honest opinions of the everyday life of a HIV positive gay American man.
Photo credit: John Grant Music