With harmony, profundity and whimsy, Grawlixes craft a triumphant folk narrative on Set Free

Out of New Zealand, Grawlixes have released their debut album, a whimsical collection of stories named Set Free.

Filled with poetic notes and simple instrumentation, it’s a commendable collection of soft, alt-folk harmonies and experimental lyricism. Built on a foundation of story telling, the record harbours some real gems and speaks wonders to the songwriting capabilities of both Robin Cederman and Penelope Esplin .

grawlixes set free album new zealand

Speaking with a spine tingling and ethereal impact, Grawlixes set themselves apart as two distinguished songwriters on their debut LP Set Free. 

Opening title track Set Free is a great introduction to Grawlixes’ ability to tap into simple guitar and finely tuned lyricism. Aching with gorgeous harmonies, I’m instantly reminded of Western Australian great Stella Donnelly and her sweet but overwhelmingly profound wordwit.

Following on is Good Shadow. A smooth transition into something with more tempo, the band have wasted no time in exploring the expansive potential of their sound.

Lover Boy is a change of pace again, with vocals from Cederman the track uses subtle, hazy effects and injects a juxtaposing tone to the record; always welcome when it comes to folk. I do often find releases in this space have a tendency to blend into one another, yet Cederman has made sure this is not possible for Grawlixes.

Darling and Death In The Family follow, walking a less dramatic line than the opening sequence but feeling as profound as ever. Again, Grawlixes find a uniqueness and strength through variation.

Been in Bed, the most listened to track on the record, see Esplin’s vocals return with a sweet innocence and perfectly lined up harmonies. After the brief interlude, Cederman jumps back in with I’ll Get Dressed Up For You, tapping into a riley blues influences and breaching out as a clear highlight for the male vocalist.

The World Spins Faster see Esplin return to her harmonious vocal style, a welcome reference back to the reverence of the album’s genesis. A loving track crafted around the simplest of ideas, it brings about the finale of Set Free with a soft whimsy.

While it may not be a finisher that brims with bravado, I’m Moving In is exactly what the doctor ordered for Grawlixes. This was never a band who meant to end their debut album with a bang and so in this case, a whimper remains far more powerful.

With an undeniable potential for profound lyricism and a bottomless folk rock diversity, Grawlixes have triumphed on Set Free.


Set Free is out now.