The Griswolds' 'High Times for Low Lives:' A Stream of Unpredictable Sounds
    • WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 09, 2016

    • Posted by: Amy Tang

    RATING: 4/5

    Australian four-piece indie rock band, The Griswolds, have returned a year later with an album that could be one of the most diverse albums of 2016. Drawing their sound from multiple genres including 80s, R&B, electronic, rock, and pop, High Times for Low Lives exhibits unique, even dark textures and surprising moments. However, their ability to transition from each song is beautifully executed and creates anticipation for each track throughout the album. Utilizing an expansive palette of sounds, vocals, and rhythms, it's no doubt that The Griswolds have delivered an album full of rich experimental techniques, incredibly catchy lyrics, and diversity.

    The album opens up with their first track "Role Models," a catchy tune with groovy synths and lead singer Christopher Whitehall belting his heart out. You'll definitely want to get up and moving with just their first track of the album -- it's a powerful hook that will pull you in and make you want more. It's a great start to the album with Whitehall's animated voice fusing with the balance of the melodious synths. Consistent with the energy, the album seamlessly transitions to "Out Of My Head" showcasing the upbeat, exuberant sound The Griswolds are known for.

    "Birthday," which may seem like another uplifting ballad, catches you by surprise. The song exudes energy, even adding in a key change later on. What makes it different is the song's change of ambiance. Sultry and seductive, Whitehall talks champagne and cocaine in this slow, soulful track. After "Comedown," one of two of the album's chilling interludes, "YDLM" featuring alternative hip-hop artist Lizzo immediately comes on in an upbeat frenzy. On first listen, automatically pinpointed are a few Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson vibes. From wind instruments to the eccentric vocals, the song could be categorized under jazzy-pop.

    Turning the tables once more, "Rufio" delivers a darker message through the viewpoint of a struggling relationship with chilling lyrics like "I can't find no peace when I sleep alone," and "Can someone help me, can someone intervene?" It seems to centralize the idea of abandonment and addiction all at the same time, creating a catchy melody that'll instantly become stuck in your head. "Feels So Right" arrives right after in a groovy, jazzy, psychedelic burst of energy. With atmospheric synths and an infectious bassline, Whitehall reveals his soulful potential through diverse vocal ranges, exhibiting his ability to hit any note with ease. "James Joint" follows in a perfect transition as Whitehall emotionally sings along to a gorgeous piano ballad accompanied by electronic accents.

    The album picks up once more with another slow, sultry track, "Hate That I Don't Hate You." It's truly hypnotizing listening to Whitehall as he channels vocals from what seems like a mix of Glass Animals and The Neighbourhood. The album seamlessly transitions, taking us back to The Griswolds upbeat ambiance in "Lookin' For Love" as the song takes us on an exhilarating ride through internal conflicts of relationships. The second interlude "Superhero" begins with a flurry of French dialogue with Whitehall joining in shortly after accompanied by a deep, distorted voice in the background. The sound is surely different and a little bit forced, but nevertheless doesn't take away from the entirety of the album.

    "Get Into My Heart" carries the album into an energized craze as steel drums play consistently throughout, giving us a bit of a summery feel while traveling into the descent of November. The album then finishes up with the title track and "I Want It All" - two songs that exhibit darker lyrical content. The title track mainly focuses on Whitehall's vocals while "I Want It All" takes on a Trent Reznor-style vibe.

    Overall, it's no doubt that The Griswolds' High Times For Low Lives takes us on an unpredicted rollercoaster, leaving us with no real ground to determine what their following sounds will be like. Sometimes that can be a little risky due to the fact that some audiences like to acquire a solid ground in determining their liking to a specific sound or genre. However, it's not always a bad thing as The Griswolds tackle on the difficult challenge of changing their sounds throughout each song, experimenting and exhibiting their strength to execute each song soundly and lyrically with careful attention and ease. I can't wait to see what The Griswolds have in store for us in the future.

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