Grand Duchy – [Album]

Friday, 16 March 2012

There are few things in the world which are more salubrious than a rock record that has guitar parts big enough to cause listeners to throw their fists in the air but also beats groovy enough to make them dance too. Lots of bands try to make records like that (not many are successful) but, on Let The People Speak, Grand Duchy (a.k.a. Frank Black and wife Violet Clark's project) has fallen into a perfect state of grace and released the best of the breed in years. For fifteen tracks, Duchy finds a rich blend of dimly lit rock guitar, sexy vocals and shady, perfectly danceable beats which is guaranteed to sink into a listener's subconscious and get even the most self-conscious bodies moving.

All of those elements are set up and ready to go right away as an elastic bass line and almost Blondie-esque beat (it's close to “Heart Of Glass”) Lead off “See-Thru You.” Here, like all the great dance-rock bands of the Eighties and Nineties (Blondie, Bow Wow Wow, Garbage et c.), Grand Duchy makes their lyrics sort of static (only the pop hook about 'seeing through you' is memorable) but makes sure the melody is deliciously suggestive and slinky to match the swing of the bass. That would be enough to get the song noticed, but the moment Frank Black's guitar ambles in and makes its presence felt (at around the one-minute mark) the game changes completely; in that first entry, lyrics about being glued to the phone stuck on hold mean little – but the melody, bass, beat and guitar will have listeners hypnotized. That's when listeners will start to feel the rhythm and, from that moment forward, Let The People Speak never relinquishes its hold.

As the record progresses, the electronics hinted at in “See-Thru You” become smoother, more streamlined and dynamic, and songs like “White Out,” “Dark Sparkles And The Beat,” “Two Lies And One Truth” and “Illiterate Lovers” present as perfectly slippery and mercurial rock songs which never exactly digress into full-on Top 40-caliber danceable fluff, but tread close enough to appeal equally to both camps. It's a pretty infectious result and such growth (upon the band's base first laid in 2009) is fantastic and exciting; by the time listeners make their way through the album's title track at its close, their palettes will already be whetted for more. Here's hoping it doesn't take long for Grand Duchy to follow this record up; it would be a shame if they had to break the rhythm they've proven they have going with it.


Grand Duchy –
"Silver Boys" – Let The People Speak


Let The People Speak
comes out via Sonic Unyon/Cooking Vinyl on April 10, 2012. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

Comments are closed.