Aw yes, the sophomore album. The album which proves whether a band can live up to the glory that was their debut. Nana Grizol’s task was even harder than most bands, having to create an album as sweet, catchy, and as much as an emotional roller coaster that was the horribly underrated 2008 mini masterpiece Love It, Love It. But of course, Nana Grizol being the wonders they are, manage to pull it off with great folk-punk and Elf Power influenced riffs, blazing horns, and some of Theo’s best song writing and story telling to date.
The easiest difference between the two albums is the lack of horns, at least compared to Love It, Love It. Many of the band’s horn players left after their early 2009 tour, leading the horns to be more scattered through the album. While this just plain sucks, there are upsides to this. Namely, improved song-craft and writing.
Not that Nana were slouching in either department previously, just that it leads to a newer sound. The riffs are more up front as well as Theo’s punk influence. Multiple songs are less than 2 minutes long, and the crunchy riffs of “From Here “, as well as its guitar solo are something you would have never expected Nana Grizol to produce. Nana Grizol’s sweetness is still well in tack though. “Atoms” is just as tender as “Motion in the Ocean” and the instrumental “Alice and Gertrude” has a wonderful Beirut quality to it, complete with French sounding horns (I didn’t say they were all gone).
But just like their first effort, it’s the way everything mushes together that makes the album work so well. Love is still what’s on everyone’s mind, but in a new light. To view past loves as wonderful events in their lives, getting past them, and living life to the fullest. “Blackbox” incapacitates this perfectly starting off as a tale of two ex’s still being upset at each other, one still liking the other, and ending with the realization of how short life is by listening to old blackbox recordings. All incased in a post-power pop style, impeccable horns, and a wonderful piano riff at the end. “Cynicism”, a bittersweet little tune, is proof of their lyrical genius with the line “Cynicism isn’t wisdom, it’s just a lazy way to say that you’ve been burned.” and by the end of the songs you may think they’re right . . . in a nihilistic type of way. “For Things That Haven’t Come Yet” might give “Everything You Ever Hoped or Worked For” competition for catchiest song Nana Grizol has written. Scott Spillens’ horn playing really shines through, and the jangly riff is more infects than swine flu. It’s paired perfectly with the lyrics, an oral representation of the mind rushing from a breakup and if it’s worth caring so much for. Try 500 Days of Summer in 3 minute song form.
Naysayers might say this isn’t Love It, Love It, and really it isn’t. There is less tweeness, the short songs will through you off, and you will miss the horns even though they are there. But for a band that went through internal changes, to a merge more mature on the other end isn’t surprising, and Nana Grizol aged very gracefully. At the end of the day, Ruth is a grower, and that is meant in the best possible sense.
(mp3) Nana Grizol-Galaxies
(mp3) Nana Grizol-For Things That Haven’t Come Yet (via The Great Pumpkin)
Nana Grizol Myspace
Buy the CD/LP of Ruth Here, At Orange Twin Records