Grumbling Fur – Glynnaestra (Thrill Jockey)

Psych-tronica alchemists embrace a wider, indie-pop audience

Released Jul 22nd, 2013 via Thrill Jockey / By Larry Day
Grumbling Fur – Glynnaestra (Thrill Jockey) Formed from two seasoned experimenteurs, Grumbling Fur's new record, Glynnaestra, is bound to have an avante-garde edge to it. Daniel O'Sullivan and Alexander Tucker are old pros when it comes to the UK underground, both of them serving time under various guises, including imbogodom, Guapo, Ulver and Aethenor. Their upcoming effort is an amalgam of the synthetic and the organic, ensuring that it's a pleasant balance between sci-fi electronica and guitar-pop. They imbue their brew with psych twangs and spellbinding trance-like currents. It's not the most accessible record ever created, but neither is it as obtuse as some of their other offerings.

Tracks like 'The Ballad Of Roy Batty' do have a pop gloss, despite the macabre subject matter. An ode to the Blade Runner bad guy, Grumbling Fur turn his epitaphic and iconic (also semi-improvised) speech into a chantable mantra: “All those moments will be lost / like tears in rain.” It's a track that wields rickety mine train percussion and booming doom-synths, and still owns a mainstream appeal, even through its bittersweetness. 'Dancing Light' is another cut with a penchant for pop. It's a mesh of sunny indie and dark, classic rock, all lacquered with a thick coat of electronica. It's melodic and catchy, the lyrics are infectious, and it generally conveys a positive atmosphere.

Grumbling Fur have veered away from their previous sound, and instead of being, well, grumbly, dabbling in sinister noises, they've lightened up considerably, eliciting moments of pep and tranquillity. They eschew the weirdness and deranged tools of alienation in favour of creating an LP that people will be able to grin at. It's not exactly Two Door Cinema Club, but they're making a conscious and obvious effort to encroach wider territories. Instead of being an experimental record with pop tendencies, this is an almost-pop record with experiments in abundance.

There's a stormy folktronica atmosphere on 'Clear Path'. The vocals, mirrored by deep harmonies, are light and Gaelic; there's a glinting acoustic guitar strumming frailly and rumbling drones incite darkness within the otherwise airy effort. 'Eyoreseye' begins like 'Baba O'Riley'. Electronics shudder and shiver alongside the dramatic piano melodies, as the two cohabit, the track very slowly evolves, becoming more agitated. As the music wears on, beats become far more prevalent, marching towards infinity.

Glynnaestra, named after a God the Grumbling Fur pair conjured up, is a multi-faceted album. On one hand, there are some vital pop moments that cause you to wiggle and experience joy (even when they're sadder, the pop side to the record still feels triumphant). On the other, there are a lot of experimental titbits that fans of their earlier work will be able to get their slobbery chops around. It's a transient LP. Possibly. Depending on what they do next, this could be the bridge between them being unsung heroes of the odd and becoming a dominant pop force.