Review Summary: Grass Widow use their distinct three headed vocal style and post-punk, bass-powered instrumentation to craft a strong, cohesive album
Grass Widow present a style easy to compare with other artists, but impossible to nail down. So let others go on ad nauseum about the riot grrl and post-punk comparison. Grass Widow craft their own style of excellent music. Featuring teamwork and cohesion that is impeccable and rarely seen, the three-piece’s second full length is a lithe, cohesive piece that takes a few listens to truly appreciate.
The music is upbeat and unrelenting, with the ten tracks racing by in a quick twenty-six and a half minutes, powered down the track by powerful bass lines that seize listeners’ ears and drag them into this unique world. While the bass is one of my favorite parts, it is not alone in its excellence. As I previously stated, the music is cohesive, and the workload is evenly balanced by the trio. The bouncy, punk guitar riffs get their time to shine, and though the percussion is rarely at the forefront, it is always solid and provides a great base. Together, they combine to seamlessly make music that is intricate, while still maintaining some “oomph.”
The most notable aspect of Grass Widow’s music, though, is the vocal performance of the band. The three ladies share equal time on vocals. Rather than forming simple melodies, or even styling the vocals as a lead with backing harmony, the three most often form a trichotomy, weaving their voices in and around each other, bouncing off of each other, maximizing their effect. I’m not sure any single voice is quite good enough to carry a band, and the production does not favor their voices. Together, though, their voices are powerful. The result fits the music perfectly: the balance and collective skill permeate the entire body of music. While not individually mind-blowing, they complement each other perfectly.
With the fusion of their vocals, with their constant, unpredictable shifting, and their jaunty, rollicking instrumentation, Grass Widow create songs that are constantly moving and evolving, but because of their skill, they are able to keep the songs on their desired track. It’s a paradox, really. The music is constantly changing, yet always cohesive. Upon first listen, it is very possible the listener will think it a bit messy. But with some attentive, dedicated listening, the skilled construction becomes evident. With their flare for their post-punk style of choice, and with nods to surf rock and punk, Grass Widow not only knows exactly what they want to do, but also are able to create their vision.
From the first psychedelia-tinged guitars of opener “Uncertain Melody” (which ironically features the few moments of vocal unity and melody), through the fun bass grooves and controlled chaos of the three-headed vocal attack of Tuesday, Past Time covers a relatively level music landscape. There are no duds per se, though the album the cohesiveness occasionally turns to tedium. Fortunately, when this starts to happen, a fast track with attention nabbing bass lines (“Fried Egg”) saves the day.
The only complaints one could have with Past Time are the before-mentioned occasional tedium, the vocals, and that none of the songs really possess you. As they say though, the good outweighs the bad. Grass Widow have created an excellent album worthy any music appreciator’s time.