Greys are a quartet from Toronto that have really come of age on their second album, ‘Outer Heaven’. They succeed in blending chaotic punk frenzy and expansive textures on ten well thought out tracks that are as engaging and reflective as they are furious and cleansing.
‘Cruelty’ begins with a slightly jarring intro and downbeat vocals, giving it a shoegazey feel, but the calmness is deceptive – the song is about a group of teenagers brutally killing their classmate – and is soon blown away by the rocky ‘No Star’. Another song inspired by last year’s Paris attacks, it’s punk rock vibe builds into an aggressive wrecking ball of wild abandon, the chaotic guitar sound pleasingly abrasive.
There’s plenty more where that came from too, ‘If It’s All The Same To You’ blends the expansive elements of their guitar sound with the aggressive approach, while the indie pop vocal melody makes for a catchy thrash around. ‘Blown Out’, which tackles the issue of depression within a relationship, has a similarly vibrant energy to the melody, though the dirty grunge riff and histrionic guitars hint at a deeper sense of disquiet.
There are multiple levels to this record and the band has succeeded in slipping all kinds of killer moments into its fabric. For instance, ‘Complaint Rock’ is pure punk rock and brilliant in its simplicity, but then an atmospheric interlude of crashing percussion and guitar lines offers some reflection before the bass kicks back in for a frenzied punk finale. On the other hand, ‘Strange World’ works in the opposite direction; the dreamlike opening of lazy chords and measured beats rolls along reflectively, while a background of feedback gives a slight air of disquiet that suddenly explodes with occasional bursts of screaming chaos – did not see that coming – it gets even more expansive and chilled thereafter, but a melancholy piano played over feedback finishes in style – sublime.
A particularly enjoyable aspect of this album is its variety, although they do have a kind of signature sound, they manage to explore different aspects of it in different ways. For example, ‘Erosion’, one of the standout tracks, takes a more measured approach, employing an atmospheric guitar sound, yet there’s a kind of urgency to the melody that takes a slightly darker feel as it progresses. Conversely, ‘Sorcerer’ is a furiously hard anger fueled track with a killer hook and a sludge punk feel, while ‘In For A Penny’ is upbeat and frenzied, but throws a curve ball with the twee melody of the midsection that is pure indie.
There is not one bad track on this record and it all draws to a somewhat disturbing finale on ‘My Life As A Cloud’. The use of a drum machine, in reference to the emptiness of technology, gives a dystopian feel to this atmospheric meandering and the long instrumental section rounds it all off with a real sense of disquiet, excellent stuff.
All in all, this is a cracker of an album – it’s punk, it’s rock, it’s indie, yet very individual sounding and infused with a sense of daring to the songwriting that gives it a freshness and energy that really set it apart. Superb.
‘Outer Heaven’ is out now and available here: http://store.carparkrecords.com/categories/greys