You know those sayings, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and ‘Good things take time’? Let’s assume that the same person created them. It’s safe to say that that person had never met The Grates. Recorded and produced in a week, in between managing their business, The Southside Tea Room, and preparing to have a baby, The Grates latest album, Dream Team, is a snarling punk gem that bears it’s teeth, sinks them into the listener and doesn’t let go.
Released on their very own label, Death Valley, The Grates have not sounded more like themselves since their eponymous debut Gravity Wont Get You High. As their career has progressed, they’ve shifter towards cleaner, glossier production and a more radio-friendly sound. This has led to a disconnect between their recorded material and the frenetic, anything-can-happen energy of their live shows. Dream Team, their fourth LP, removes this disconnect.
This is most evident on lead single, ‘Holiday Home’, where lead-singer Patience Hodgson shifts from sensual coos to barking growls in a matter of seconds at the songs chorus, where crunchy guitars and colossal drums come crashing down while she snarls, ‘I like to light fires on the weekend’. Similarly, ‘Friends With Scum’, clocking in at just 1 minute and 58 seconds, is a sudden burst of Bikini Kill-esque riot grrrl energy that succeeds because of its relentlessness. The album is abrupt, tough and, in true Grates fashion, ridiculously danceable.
For all of the grungy bombast of Dream Team, the album has its softer moments: ‘7-Eleven’ sweetly plods along through thick and murky guitars, while ‘Back to Back’ sees the albums heavier elements gently wash over Hodgson’s voice, now soft and delicate. Even in these heartfelt, quieter moments, the album never feels like it’s running out of steam. Each track feels necessary. This album feels distinctly DIY, but that doesn’t mean it’s flimsy or half-hearted. Dream Team feels substantial and considered.
Not since The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Fever to Tell has an album sounded so immediate and spontaneous, been so much fun, so energetic and so dangerous. It’s exactly the type of kicking-and-screaming return to music that we wanted, and The Grates needed. Dream Team may have only taken a week to record, but it’ll be sticking around in the charts for a long time.
Sorry, Romans. The Grates have you beat.
If you want to hear ‘Holiday Home’ and download it for free, head over to The Grates Soundcloud account.
Reviewed by Anthony Nocera