John Grant – Grey Tickles, Black Pressure

Album Review by John Nugent | 01 Oct 2015
Album title: Grey Tickles, Black Pressure
Artist: John Grant
Label: Bella Union
Release date: 9 Oct

John Grant’s third impressive effort in a row sees the Iceland-based musician reach a new level of maturity, even as his stylistic choices shoot for something wilder. Grant's lyrics – sardonic, raw, somehow both cynical and earnest – remain a key appeal. But he also builds on the electronic, ’80s-influenced sound established in Pale Green Ghosts, creating a bold hybrid of dancefloor fillers, lushly arranged orchestra pop, and poetic meditations.

Indeed, for a man who seeks painful catharsis through music, he sure knows how to get funky. First single Disappointing, featuring Tracey Thorn, has wah-wah riffs and 'shooby-shooby-da-ba-ba' backing singers; mid-point track Voodoo Doll could be a Prince B-side. Global Warming seems more like the ‘classic’ Grant found on debut LP Queen of Denmark: a slow, guitar-driven ballad with a coolly ironic thesis, in which the singer sarcastically laments the effects of an overheating planet on his complexion. Newcomers might find Grant occasionally idiosyncratic, but few of his peers offer such depth, courage, or repeat listening value. 

Playing Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 26 Jan; Leeds town Hall on 5 Feb; Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on 7 Feb and Manchester Albert Hall on 8 Feb