The Radioactive Grandma - what a fantastic band name. I’ll be honest, with a name like that I was expecting a dish of deepest desert rock – oodles of bass driven fuzz and fuel. Boy, was I wrong. That is not to say I was disappointed though. Focusing on what is predominantly an acoustic rock set-up the band have crafted some excellent songs on their recent album – the self titled “The Radioactive Grandma”.
Opening track “The Game” is, in essence, a microcosm of the album. Lush, cleverly panned backing vocal melodies support the excellently delivered main vocal part. The acoustic guitars, in the absence of any drums, also bear the burden of providing a solid rhythmical and percussive backbone. This is something that is achieved with style and the electric lead guitars provide additional colour throughout. Track 2, “Don’t Look Down” has a hint of Bloc Party about it, especially on the vocals. The Bloc Party comparison is stronger on the 3rd track “Another Wasted Line” , unfortunately, it is at this stage that I find myself pining for some actual drums as opposed to the percussive guitar playing that’s plugging the gap. The track is genuinely one of the strongest on the album but would certainly benefit from some full-on drums.
The next track “Chasing My Tail” is a softer affair than the first three numbers with the lead guitar parts providing some angular math-rock colour. Track number 5 “The Robot Song” has a very different feel – a slower tempo than it’s predecessors. The song is cleverly positioned on the track listing and the lead guitar playing is excellent throughout – first providing a piano like feel and then some effects laden melody. “Waves” has a nice intro, musically similiar initially to something The Walls might craft. Track number 7 “What Are You Running From” is a glorious piece of indie pop and is certainly a contender for the best song on the album. With an energetic series of guitar parts and a light as air vocal melody the track has a feel good vibe – despite the lyrical theme.
Flying With The Crows” and“Not Soon Enough” are both solid affairs and the album closes with ”The Walls Have Ears”. An energetic and unnerving number with a touch of Radiohead about it. The track is a strong closing number and features some excellent lead guitar work. The album also features a hidden track that kicks in after “The Walls Have Ears” ends. Despite an eerie opening a pleasant track awaits. The song features some beautiful acoustic guitar playing – similiar in parts to some ofJimmy Page and Led Zeppelin’s dreamier folk music moments, very much a hidden gem and certainly worth waiting for.
Most of the albums songs are in and around 3 minutes long and that makes them very accessible. This, allied with the superb vocal delivery and clever instrumental work, means that The Radioactive Grandma have an awful lot going for them. Personally speaking I have always found drums (and drummers) to be a very necessary evil within a band dynamic and I believe that adding a drummer would elevate the songs to a higher level again. But that’s just me and it would be unfair to harp on about the band not using drums after crafting such decent songs. The emphasis is very much on superb vocal delivery and clever guitar dynamics and the production quality is of a very high quality throughout the album. Essentially it is a case of a job very well done by The Radioactive Grandma.