A mixed bag to be sure
Greys’ new release, the eleven-track Age Hasn’t Spoiled You, is hard to narrow down. Through a few songs, there are consistent sounds and themes, but then there are outliers that don’t stray too far but stray far enough. The band’s influences are not particularly easy to locate, but some of their contemporaries may appreciate the stylistic nods they make (notably “Burning Chrome” sounding like something SALES might release). Overall, this album is perhaps a detour in a space mission, on a planet eerily similar to Earth, though lacking the same amount of life. Let’s say we’re about to “go under” for a surgical operation — there’s no way things would sound the same in those minutes before happy, sleepy time begins. There’s a blurriness to what our senses take in while our eyes are still open, and that unclear yet present sound is found in a number of songs on Age Hasn’t Spoiled You. It holds attention and fits wonderfully in “Western Guilt” (a highlight track), but seems like kind of a nuisance elsewhere, in “Kill Appeal” and “Arc Light.” The former, maybe in an effort to recreate a killing, has a short-lived moment of aural torture, with a squealing, suffering saxophone and (briefly) no place to hold on to for safety. Frankly, this siphons most of the potential enjoyment out of this song, and not to mention the fact that the singing was not particularly intelligible throughout. “I get so sick of myself” is the presiding sentiment of “Arc Light,” the first full tune after the abduction that is “A-440,” and while it may not be a smooth listening experience, it properly communicates its desired message through its distorted delivery, complete with cackling, screeching guitar. To some, it may be an honest re-creation of what it feels like having drank a few.
“Constant Pose,” track three, is a tad more joyous, with sweet lines such as “I can tell you enjoy yourself,” luckily, not sang in a creepy, “I’m watching you” kind of way, but in a wholesome, I know you’re happy” way. Greys gives us a trick ending in this one, with an appendage at the end that’s debatably better than the rest of the song, yet sadly does not lead into the following tune. Prepare to be disappointed by its transience. “These Things Happen” also has a different section that surmounts the rest, luckily this one (when “look into every window” is sung) lasts longer than the tag at the end of “Constant Pose,” and throughout this section and the rest, this one has a casual rebelliousness to it, bringing to mind John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change.”
There are three long songs, which, chronologically, are “Western Guilt,” “Aphantasia” and “Shelley Duvall in 3 Women.” The second two do not need to be as long as they are. Sure, they have different sections and some alterations to the beat, but man, they do not benefit the album on their own, even if they were shorter. “Western Guilt” however, is an accurate sonic portrait of life following disaster, with little to do but think and reminisce. Frontman Shehzaad Jiwani’s singing is clearer here, oddly enough, and the final seconds of the song feel like drowning. Easily a favorite from this album.
While “Western Guilt” is a commendable and transportive tune, the top two are “Burning Chrome” and “Static Beach.” All three of these fit the album art quite well, and “Burning Chrome” excellently balances being an easy listen and look into another world. “Static Beach” does fine as an ending track, finding success in its ability to ignite questions and cover the arms with uneasy chills. Arguably the best songs overall, though the shining lyric is the repeated “looking for sunlight in your eyes” in “Tangerine,” delivered with uncertainty as to presence of this sought-after sunlight.
This album is not great all the way through, but its most intriguing moments are worth the listen. It just might make Earth feel a little more lonely, though not in an entirely bad way.