The Griswolds - H E A R T O F A L I O N
Record Label: Self-Released
Release Date: June 13, 2012
Though they call themselves “the chameleons of pop,” The Griswolds fit pretty snugly into the niche of upbeat, sun-soaked, synth-laden indie pop that’s doing quite well for itself right now.
It’s that youthful, innocent, carefree sound of a band like Givers. This quintet from the smallest continent is one of those bands that could rocket to greater consciousness with just the right outrageously joyous, bouncy single that will rope a whole great gaggle of people with a nice hook and a bright, neon grin.
The opening track of their four song EP (which is apparently, annoyingly, styled H E A R T O F A L I O N) comes pretty close to being that single, too. It has many of the traits of a good, breakout indie pop single: a quick pace, youthful vigor, a groovy bass line to latch onto, and plucky, active percussion. It even has some “oh oh ohs” and a potentially thrilling, low-to-the-earth earth chorus.
No matter how well they do those things, though - and they do do them fairly well - it all comes to naught because of a sudden, slow synth-bathed pop swoon that stops “Heart of a Lion” in its track. The ensuing rebound is too abbreviated to bounce the song back to its previous heights - The Griswolds went from pedal to the floor acceleration to pedal-to-the-floor brakes, and we’re a bit busy trying to peel ourselves off the windshield to catch the end of the song. I've spent too long on it, but it’s the most jarring, unforgettable part of this EP.
The rest continues in fairly standard fashion. Those same falsetto vocals return to varying degrees of success. This guy’s no Timberlake; his voice shouldn't bear a song’s weight in that manner.
For example: the stretched falsetto distracts on the tad synth-heavy “Mississippi,” but “The Courtship of Summer Preasley” is a fine example of how they can use the vocalist’s upper registers. The vocals are low-key, lazily bopping along on top of some rapid fire drumming or a sultry bass, giving the an upbeat, percussion-heavy song a sunny, lazy beach swagger that holds quite nicely.
I don’t want to be the person crushing a band for hopping on a trend. Preference for a currently popular genre isn't something a band should be judged too harshly for, especially if they do it well. The Griswolds... well, they do it well enough. H E A R T O F A L I O N may be obnoxiously titled and it may not be a great EP, but it’s short, sweet enough, and has at least a song and a half that could get even the more resolute feet tapping.