There’s a pattern somewhere: Mellow Melodic Rock a la Pink Floyd, purging jagged punk, polished poppy synth-infested new wave, garage grunge. Now we have such masterminded music as Grand National’s Kicking the National Habit. Grand National is a clean, plain-good-fun music that has taken a stance not to be a victim of stale repetition. Drawing from influences such as New Order and Police, Grand National has made pop music for the sake of making good music a good thing again.
Grand National started as nothing more than a two man cover band for such artists as Queen and the Police, which clearly had an impact later in their career when they were to record “Daylight Goes,” as the beginning guitar riffs have an address on the same street “Roxanne” was walking. Rupert Lyddon and Lawrence “La” Rudd have been musicians ever since their early teens and never really expected a full blown record deal and practiced for the sake of being better musicians. Years later, when in their late twenties, Lyddon made friends with the members of Primal Scream and eventually found himself with some studio time to burn. With that, they recorded their first track, third on Kicking the National Habit, “Playing in the Distance.” After that, the tracks came “liquid and lambent” as Lyddon and Rudd put it.
Without any hesitation, the first track “Drink to Moving On” brings the listener with an enigmatic title and disco rock guitar riff. Instant dance music, the song immediately welcomes all to Grand National’s delightfully and unforgivably poppy sound that never fails to surprise. Their first recording “Playing in the Distance” shows ska influences with a horn solo and in some places and the seemingly disembodied voice of Brad Nowell. The beginning of the fourth track “Boner” entices with the same appeal of a blaxploitation film and delivers it with the same Foxy attitude, similar to the disco vocals featured on “Cherry Tree.” The atmospheric reverb on “Your Rules Obey” give a more modern electronica feel, providing a wide scope from which Grand National draws its influence. The one thing that makes Kicking the National Habi such an intriguing album is the manipulation of the guitar all over the album. The same instrument is used in every song, but with each song it not only creates a different sound, but a different tone to the whole song.
Grand National has returned to the music that most everyone loves, and for good reason. Good music done right by bringing things together in a concoction never tongued before is great. While there is plenty of high quality lo-fi recording artists out there, Grand National is on the heels of a new refined era in pop music.
The Beta Band – Heroes to Zeroes
The Police – Ghost in the Machine
Duran Duran – Duran Duran