This is a review of "D.I.L.E.M.M.A." recorded by Grammatics. The review was written by Ben Partridge in 2008.
Following up their rampant debut for DTTR, Grammatics return with a darker, spellbinding, swooner of a song. ‘D.I.L.E.M.M.A’ is a formidable example of majestic, perfectly rendered melodrama; not schmaltzy, not theatrical, never overwrought or excessive, highly stylised to be sure, but executed with the superlative sincerity of a high-court judge. The whole effort is replete with the heartfelt throng of fervent, impassioned romance; hankering, speculative, teeming with lovelorn, plaintive yearning. The soaring vocals, brilliantly delivered, are by the far the best thing about the track, brimming with breathless and bountiful pathos, leading the hugely spirited melancholy of the chorus fantastically well. In this respect Grammatics fall somewhere between the proto-emo of Cursive, and the alt-folk of Bright Eyes; you can certainly hear the malady of Conor Oberst in Owen Brinley’s doe-eyed affectations.
The sometimes ruminative, sometimes foreboding strings are perfectly arranged to conjure the right amount of atmosphere, and together with the crunchy stabs of bass, work to lift the otherwise workaday pound of the drums toward much greater heights than simple rhythmic accompaniment. The delayed guitar harmonics riff that features throughout is truly hypnotic, and in the momentary riposte two and half minutes in, wholly mesmerising, sounds almost like the kind of synth loop you might hear on a super club Trance track, but it works a treat.
B-side ‘Polar Swelling’ is much more of a meandering ‘builder’, and at 6:33, allows for a much greater development of Grammatics self-espoused and profligate ‘pretension’. The tender buzz of keys and fantastic interplay between the vocals and strings are easily the highlight here, but once again the arrangement and the supremely well accomplished recording give a glow to the track which really does it justice rather gracefully. Aside from the somewhat dubious melodic similarity to Bjork’s ‘Bachelorette’ which the vocals and strings exploit towards the end, ‘Polar Swelling’ is a genuinely intriguing, and original adventure in song.
Of greatest appeal perhaps, Grammatics manage to achieve their foresaid invention without being obscurantist in the slightest, which is more than can be said for many other bands with such profuse ambitions as this lot. The consummate crafting of such a fine balance between humility and bombast on show here is unquestionably special; one hopes Grammatics’ self-professed ‘delusions of grandeur’ don’t disrupt the scales, and risk the sabotage of such an enviable talent.