Grizfolk etches a robust amount of swagger onto the foundations of country, rock, and pop with their head-bopping, eponymous full-length album.
Alt-rock foursome Grizfolk aren’t here to waste your time. Since their 2014 debut EP, the band have only offered up the tightest of songwriting; always catchy, boppy, and destined for road trip aux duties.
The LA/Nashville-based band tend to keep their material electric and bright, but that doesn’t mean any substance is sacrificed. On their last record, Rarest of Birds (2019), Grizfolk embraced organic instrumentation, setting aside their synth chops for a dust-caked celebration of rock and pop.
On Grizfolk, they’ve brought back the synths, but only to bolster their infectious outback bangers for a contemporary audience. The end product is a wellspring of gorgeous tunes inspired by the old greats, arranged for the modern age.
Fumes opens up the record with a brooding, nighttime jog, like a 2012 Arctic Monkeys cut. The emotionally charged song breaks into a huge chorus that asks big questions. Exploring ideas of commitment and fear, the protagonist “can’t carry the weight no more”. The acoustic moment is a nice touch, emphasising the brevity of the track.
Grizfolk scratches a different itch on follow-up, Be My Yoko (funny name, right?). Boasting another huge chorus, this time with group vocals and ambitious falsetto, Be My Yoko walks a tightrope of sincerity and irony, as singer Adam cries for raucousness with a lover:
“I wanna wear you like a bulletproof vest, take you to the streets, maybe start a protest.”
The organ gets dusted off for the confidently bluesy California High. Paired with booming drums and crunchy electrics, this one is a certified banger that would have comfortably fit on a Black Keys record. Speaking of bangers, the lamenting Now That I Know doesn’t even stop to take a breath. Its chugging bassline and effortless melody ensure head-bopping is tilted to max on the groove dial.
Gone is a personal favourite off the record, shrouded in outback imagery (“a California king building castles in the sand”) and ambiguous regrets (“Are we really ever gone?”). However, what really takes Gone to stratospheric levels of resonance is its instrumentation. Picked banjo, pedal steel, and whistling all remind listeners that Grizfolk are prophets of classic folk music, despite their slick, modern inclinations.
The country-thumping The Ripple is further testament to this, a song fit for barnyard debauchery as well as brightly lit stadiums. Americana twang continues into Money, which quips harmonica for additional suburban flavour. The album concludes on Stargazer, a moment of pure sheen between strummed acoustic guitar and a man with something to say.
“Everything’s gonna be just fine” is a moving statement for our times, where turmoil and COVID-19 continue to run amock, turning lives upside down and strewing the music industry.
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Grizfolk created this record right in the thick of the virus, forcing each member to record their parts remotely. Against the odds, the band have never sounded so refined and memorable, breathing new life into good ol’ rock and folk music. Even if the minor key reigns supreme. For now.
Grizfolk is out now. Stream or purchase your copy here.