Pixel Grip – Heavy Handed
Pixel Grip’s Heavy Handed sees the goth disco trio blend an array of influences into an eclectic debut album
With a title like Heavy Handed, Pixel Grip set the tone for tracks which are all experimentation and slick showmanship with little room for substance. This, of course, is part of the album’s allure – though it might cloy at first listen.
In the best moments, like in the closing bars of Body Like That, the reigning retro aesthetic is toughened up with drums and droning electronics. Yet the record can occasionally tend towards electro-pop pastiche, particularly when tongue-in-cheek lyrics like; 'Make me warmer / Than black tie in July', (Diamonds) have the bite of an old Roxy Music hit. But these derivative moments are, on the whole, few and far between. Melding together elements of Chicago house, French electronica and Hi-NRG with pop melodies, the instrumentation is exceedingly varied – almost perilously so.
However, Rita Lukea’s vocals create a continuous flow, shaping the album across elaborate synths, pulsating rhythms and more familiar indie-pop hooks. Floating on top of ambient textures one minute and spitting out one-liners the next, her malleable tone works as the anchor keeping the music from veering off into disarray. It’s this same vocal quality that carries the album through stand-out tracks like the breathy, sensual Tell Him Off and deliciously dark Can’t Compete.
Distorted vocals and incongruous smatterings of French make certain songs, like Twentyfour, feel a touch overdone but overall it’s an impressive, evocative debut – even if it does feel like Pixel Grip stretch themselves slightly too far.
Listen to: Tell Him Off, Can't Compete