Grand Mariner - Happy to Birth
Record Label: Self-Released
Release Date: February 24, 2014
Grand Mariner seems like the kind of band that parties pretty goddamned hard. How can I know this for sure? I can’t. But I do know the music on their debut EP, Happy to Birth, contains a single, crazy quality that’s been unfortunately absent of the indie community as of late: fun.
From the dissonant introduction to the grungy distorted bass and guitars that open “Max Milwaukee”, the Grand Mariner guys continually succeed in creating intriguing music while never taking themselves too seriously. The urgent yelps of “Mac Milwaukee” are eerily reminiscent of Modest Mouse’s early material (circa-This is a Long Drive…), while other song structures (the riffs of “Summer Wars” and the vocal harmonies throughout “Dolphin Blood”) feel instantly memorable and generally more upbeat.
After a short acoustic interlude, we are presented with some of the EP’s best (and worst) moments. “Haunted Surfboard” bounces throughout the dark, like the soundtrack to a classic Scooby Doo chase scene. The only time Happy to Birth begins to falter at all is when the previous song explodes towards its end (albeit sounding like an absolute blast live), and when the questionable vocals come in during “Fires on the Sea”. Closer “Unforgiving Sun,” by comparison, may be the band’s strongest performance, perfectly encapsulating the contents of Happy to Birth into one surprisingly straightforward indie-rock jam.
Structurally and lyrically, the band pays tribute to acts like Nirvana and the Beach Boys, but sonically, the entirety of Happy to Birth plays out like the Beach Boys on acid. If that last sentence appeals to you in any possible way, Grand Mariner’s debut is a (pay-what-you-want) album that you can’t go without.