Review Summary: I liked you better as a three piece.
Relatively unknown across international waters, The Grates have dominated the Australian Indie pop/rock scene with their debut and sophomore albums ‘Gravity Won’t Get You High’ and ‘Teeth Lost, Hearts Won’ respectively. Their debut was an energetic display of the band as a whole, emphasizing their own abilities and talents to create memorable music. It was catchy, a little bit cheeky and above all: a fun record. The latter of the two albums was pretty much more of the same, albeit toned down drastically. It wasn’t a bad record but I couldn’t help but think they’d started to run out of ideas.
In-between then and now the major focal point of the band's career was the loss of drummer Alana Skyring who left to pursue other goals. Now, The Grates were only a three piece to begin with but the members were so tightly wound, both musically and socially that it somehow managed to work as a whole despite some shortcomings. The lack of Skyring on Secret Rituals is definitely a large drawback as it instantly removes her talents and any musical chemistry she brought along to the group.
That’s not to say that the remaining members have become obsolete. Singer Patience Hodgson’s vocals are as beautiful as ever and guitarist John Patterson is more than capable of bringing in the catchy guitar rhythm for each song. I hate to single out certain members in a band, but I think Skyring might’ve been your catalyst, Grates.
Despite being a member down and having a shift in sound, Secret Rituals is still a good album overall, although not very memorable. Some songs will give you their lasting attention with their catchy tune and all around playfulness but it’ll be a challenge to pick out your favourites from a mostly similar sounding lineup. Once all is said and done though, Secret Rituals is not a bad album at all, but aside from the loss of Skyring, the major affliction of this record is that it lacks a soul. Lacks a heart. A meaning, a message.
There may not be any hope for them getting another to fill the shoes of their previous drummer, but hopefully they can rekindle some (if not all) of the lost energy she took with her when she left.