Great Grandpa
Four of Arrows


4.0
excellent

Review

by Mathias USER (27 Reviews)
November 5th, 2019 | 85 replies


Release Date: 10/25/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Step into whatever you want to and let your spirits bloom.

Four of Arrows is an album of grandiose mini epics, all while somehow remaining wistful and subdued. On their sophomore album, Great Grandpa are mainly questioning their place in the world. From “Mono No Aware”, where they question the validity of their emotions when compared to those of others, to “Bloom”, which is wondering when, if ever, they will feel as if they have adequately achieved enough for their age, to “Treat Jar”, where they continuously second-guess why they don’t give up on a relationship that gives no reciprocity. Every song tells a story, one that paints nostalgia and questions of the future, but that never feels dated, solipsistic, or frightened. Instead, they are just stories of life that we have all experienced, that may not be that important, yet somehow feel as though they are leading to defining moments in the shape of our identities.

It’s clear from opener “Dark Green Water” that Great Grandpa is ready to show where their influences lie. A slow jam 90s-inspired indie rocker that wouldn’t sound out of place on the radio in between Weezer and Alanis Morissette, with off-kilter hints that ring out Radiohead, the album is a slow-burn melodic indie rocker. Second track “Digger” is truly the thesis of the sound of the album. As Great Grandpa said in an interview with Stereogum leading up to the release of Four of Arrows - “Go slow, big choices”. Even though “Digger” may be a slow burn of a song, it absolutely teems with energy. From a subdued verse with an Americana twang, the song explodes in the chorus with Alex Menne’s voice crying out “That’s why I hate you” in the first iteration of the chorus, but transitioning to an equally impassioned “That’s why I love you” as the chorus returns later in the song. An emotional pillar that shows that this band is clearly that - a band. Each musician perfectly plays off of each other, creating a melding of sounds and a beautiful wall of intertwined noises. “Dark Green Water” is the first sign that Four of Arrows is a truly communal experience.

That blend is also what lends Four of Arrows to a comparison of classic epics. The band takes their time to reach the conclusion of the journey of each song. It uses all forty-four minutes of its run-time to share its messages. That being said, the song structure can end up becoming somewhat predictable. The formula appears to be start slow-> build up to a chorus-> subdue again-> build even more-> subdue again-> crash course to the end-> hushed ending. However, there are enough creative melodies and craftsmanship in the musicianship that each song has its own unique identity. In a brilliant move, a Debussy-inspired piano sonata in “Endling” appears halfway through the tracklist to act almost as an intermission for our epic, as well as to work to break up any monotony that may have threatened to spill over to the back half of the album.

Of course, like any great epic, the words used to describe the story are perhaps the most important part of the journey. Again, Great Grandpa does not disappoint. “Rosalie” and “Split Up the Kids” are particularly effective. The former tells the story of the deteriorating condition of a hospice patient and offers perhaps the best emotional climax of the album, both musically and lyrically, as Menne sings “Odd things, throw the cereal on the ceiling/Stretched screams, swollen/speech, void of meaning/Sad scenes can be beared, can be handled/No thing keeps me up, keeps us screaming”. “Split Up the Kids” recalls the stories of different tormented families in particularly heart wrenching detail, all in a hushed manner, meaning it becomes one of the few songs on the album to break free of the aforementioned relied-upon song structure.

While Four of Arrows is in no-way a concept album and doesn’t tell one particular story across it tracks, it holds many stories of a shared human existence. The album title takes its name from a tarot card, a card which is also somewhat artistically represented in the album cover. The meaning of this card is that a person is in need of peace and quiet, as well as introspection. Paradoxically, it also means that the person who has received the card has faith and has received spiritual counseling. These are the two ideas that Great Grandpa have also entangled together: a confusion around the ties we have to the world around us, but the belief that we can make that world our own.



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user ratings (63)
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
dmathias52
November 5th 2019


1039 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I know a lot of people are loving this. Hopefully I did it some semblance of justice! Feedback is always appreciated

Digging: Keaton Henson - Six Lethargies

WatchItExplode
November 5th 2019


7277 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

The "communal" way this album was constructed and conceived is part of the charm. Like how Treat Jar comes from the singer and rhythm section while the guitarist and his wife/bassist come together and create Split up for the kids from her diary. Good ideas are good ideas and everyone contributes music/lyrics that pass through the Great Grandpa filter to become great songs. They all buy in completely to what they create and I can hear it in the music. I'm still nuts about this. It was pretty much made for me.



Thanks Mathias, been waiting for this one.

Digging: Great Grandpa - Four of Arrows

Atari
Staff Reviewer
November 5th 2019


25131 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

Thanks Mathias, been waiting for this one [2]



couldn't agree more with that first sentence (tho I think you meant epics ;)

Digging: Proper. - I Spent the Winter Writing Songs About Getting Bet

dmathias52
November 5th 2019


1039 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh yup def meant epics lol. Thanks for the catch!

Love the way you talked about the filter @Explode. You should check out the Stereogum interview, they discuss that a lot!

WatchItExplode
November 5th 2019


7277 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

The Stereogum piece definitely increased my appreciation of the band/album.



It stands out to me that the singer would go have a cry after emotionally draining recording sessions. That is, the act of translating the lyrics/experiences of her bandmates into song was that heartfelt and affecting. She wrote lyrics for a few songs, but not the majority.



Usually great music seems to be the creative vision of an individual realized. With Great Grandpa is seems like some sort of symbiosis.

Lucman
November 5th 2019


3484 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Beautiful review as always, man. I adore this record and every song, but there's something about Treat Jar that I really, really love. It's the kind of song that makes me feel wonderful inside.

Digging: Great Grandpa - Four of Arrows

zaruyache
November 5th 2019


21565 Comments


oh cool didn't know this was out yet.

Digging: Death Toll 80k - Step Down

Sunnyvale
November 6th 2019


1224 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice. Album is great, I don't seem to like it quite as much as others seem to though (at least so far)

JesperL
November 6th 2019


470 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"It's the kind of song that makes me feel wonderful inside"



this! both treat jar and bloom have this effect on me, helping me overcome the seasonal depression and miserable autumn darkness haha

AxeToFall93
November 6th 2019


16 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Lovely record. Also "Digger" may be soty.

dmathias52
November 6th 2019


1039 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Treat Jar and Bloom are also some of my favorites, especially Bloom. Odd to find a song that positive. Part of me wishes the rest of the album followed suit, but it also makes much of the album that much more impactful

WatchItExplode
November 6th 2019


7277 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Bloom is wonderful and positive but it may be my least favorite song on the album. Probably because I think it is a Third Eye Blind song every time.

Pikazilla
November 6th 2019


6277 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is actually great. Thank you for recommending this, Lucman. And it's definitely better than anything by Laura S haha



Also, bumped the average to a 4 just now!

WatchItExplode
November 6th 2019


7277 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

It was 4.4 for awhile with no votes below 4...which was perfect.

Pikazilla
November 6th 2019


6277 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oops, it's gone down again.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2019


25131 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

attapika

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 6th 2019


32687 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Amazing find. This is one of the most breathtaking albums I've heard all year.

Digging: Low Roar - ross.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2019


17515 Comments


Oh fuck just missed this band live I’m boo boo the fool

MELONADE13
November 6th 2019


718 Comments


sad, they absolutely KILL live, one of the better sets I've seen

terrified to listen to this considering how much I loved plastic cough

Pikazilla
November 6th 2019


6277 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wait the previous one is even better?



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