This is a review of "Shadow Committee" recorded by Grammatics. The review was written by Natalie Hardwick in 2007.
After listening to this hurtling rollercoaster of a musical offering, one would be forgiven for imagining Leeds’ Grammatics create their masterpieces holed up in a candlelit gothic garage, in between earnestly skimming Tolstoy, purely for artistic merit. That’s not to poke fun at this eager outfit, whose penchant for exploring the intricacies of intelligent indie low-fi is commendable, as demonstrated by their latest single, released under the noble watch of the Dance to the Radio label, home to many an aspiring throng of guitar-toting whippersnappers bound to be the next ‘Big Thing’.
Track number one, Shadow Committee, is highly considered yet endearingly fraught. Head miser Owen’s vocals are far-reaching, melodic and memorable, with his fellow band members thrashing out at their respective strings and skins to create an atmospheric body of music that keeps the listener wondering where exactly it’s going to end up next. The nigh-on-androgynous vocals, obviously comparable to the pained warbling of Matt Bellamy, or ladyboy Brian Molko, are controlled enough to compliment the sharp, multi faceted instrumental without drowning it. The grandiose strings and thrashing guitars play mind games with the unassuming listener, sporadically ranging from ominously chromatic riffs to flowing and sensual cello strokes. Lyrical references to ‘crippling comedowns’ and such like, suggest that this not-so-happy-go-lucky bunch of depressives wrote the track about sinister times that, frankly, don’t bear thinking about. Nonetheless, this merely adds to the charm of this atmospheric malady.
Track two, Broken Wing, opens with the kind of raw acoustic strumming which would not sound completely ludicrous soundtracking an LA-based teen TV melodrama (to perfectly compliment a camera panning around a sunset-drenched beach to an embracing couple, for instance). However this formulaic track, captivating from the outset, unfolds to be a strings-tinged crescendo of a power ballad, demonstrating yet again the flexibility and fervent ambition of this daring outfit. A mile apart from the guitar trash drivel Leeds seems to be producing by the sickbucket load, in Grammatics is a gifted and precocious band of oddities whose knowledge of and passion for finely composed and executed music is glaringly obvious from listening to their offerings for mere minutes. Surely, playing in the flesh to a candlelit audience, the band would be goose bump-inducing. I digress, and gushing aside, I seriously advise you to jump on this bandwagon before it reaches, shudder, ‘The Mainstream’.