In just two short years, electro duo Grasscut have managed to almost entirely reinvent themselves from the ambiance of their debut smash 1 Inch: 1 ½ Mile to something more driving and visceral with Unearth, their latest release. Feast your ears on this album and you’ll hear a masterful mix of Explosions in the Sky-scale soundscapes and twee Brit beats a la Tindersticks with tracks so engaging, it would be almost an insult to relegate them to background music.
The men behind the music are Andrew Phillips and Marcus O’Dair, the former a film and television composer and the latter a journalist and broadcaster. The idiosyncratic blokes from Brighton drew heavily from their somewhat renaissance backgrounds (fun fact: O’Dair’s also a military strategist) and every song’s got some solipsistic story or other. Another particularly awesome offering that came from this album is the neo-luddite scavenger bonanza they’ve made of hiding cassettes throughout the UK. Find them all and make sense of the music and you’ve earned a private performance from the band.
Gimmicks aside, this album is solid. Opening tracks “Cut Grass” and “Pieces” ease you into the world of Grasscut and shed the last remnants of 1 Inch: 1 ½ Mile‘s unassuming electronics. A particular highlight from Unearth is right in the thick of the album, the lovesick anthem “Stone Lions.” Piano and a distant croon set the mood, as the occasional pad and synth dot the first verse.
Grasscut is excellent at the effortless build and even the clearly programmed strings and timpani add to the yearning message. Final track “Richardson Road” is the most conventional, with lounge-y piano taking the lead, along with echo-drenched vocals. After the last legato wisps of trumpet quiet down, you’re left with the feeling that even more surprises are in store and that this album may be just another phase, albeit a lovely one.