Reviews

American Names

Author: Jewly Hight
11/03/2008 | Performing Songwriter | www.performingsongwriter.com | Album Review
Sebastien Grainger's solo debut gives the illusion of a band effort, both with its big sound (more layered than his work with Canadian dance-punk duo Death From Above 1979) and its plural title. But—aside from the bass parts—the 12 tracks are mostly his handiwork. Grainger has shed his earlier band's caustic, hedonistic swagger but keeps things plenty loud and danceable. In songs like "Who Do We Care For?" and "I Hate My Friends," he's harnessed vivid melodic hooks and lyrics that test the glue of relationships to taut grooves, synths and razor-edged guitars. Even as Grainger sings about more tender topics (lovers, friends and a sense of home) that are worlds away from Death's crass seduction, his unhinged yowling is cloaked in a metallic echo, as though all that disclosure has driven him into hiding. The album's sharp sonic edges and bluntly introspective lyrics at times seem almost as paradoxical as approaching the human heart with good will and an ice pick—but it does make for a striking listen