Groom -‘At The Natural History Museum.’ (Tight Ship)
In London, at the Natural History Museum, the thing that strikes you when you walk through the door, is a massive skeleton of a Tyrannasaurus Rex. It’s now less awe-inspiring when you’re a thirty-something than when you’re a toddler. It’s a thing of natural wonder.
This album from Groom is similarly awe-inspiring. Over the course of six songs in just thirty-two minutes, Michael Stevens and his band from Dublin have produced something pretty awe-inspiring themselves. is this a natural or man-made wonder? Well, let’s just say mankind’s had to evolve a pretty long way to come up with some of the couplets that Mr. Stevens has come up with. Take ‘Mythical Creatures’ for example:
‘Smugglers with guns and sailors with bludgeons hide in the harbour and draw out their knives
On minor poets with major grudges who drink too much booze and are sleep-deprived.
In a wind-swept cottage with narrow windows, who knows what sadness awaits for us?
The tear-drenched face of a lonely widow or a three-thousand-year-old Egyptian curse.’
on ‘Death Of A Songwriter’ there’s a delicious sort of black humour:
‘I worked in immunology abd nearly injected myself with HIV.
I worked in the kitchens of an American aircraft carrier but couldn’t get over the language barrier.’
A casual glance at some of the song titles ‘Let’s Die Together’ or ‘Worst Of Times, Worst Of Places’ might suggest that this album would make for a depressing listen. Yet in its’ examination of the human condition, even if its’ conclusions may appear bleak, or at best self-effacing, somehow it’s a life-affirming listen.
Their myspace describes Groom as ‘Indiepop minus everything Indiepop should be.’ Well, I think this is Indiepop as it damn well should be! And that’s not indie as in ‘Oh, it’s got guitars and it’s actually horrendousy msucially conservative’ that’s indie as in a force for good. Listening to this again (and for the second time this morning, I have to confess), it reminds me in a good way of both Belle and Sebastian and The Shins. And not a hint of twee anywhere in sight.
When the album finishes with ‘Moving West ‘it’s almost heart-breaking. And that’s quite a journey in thirty-two minutes.
Groom -‘Let’s Die Together.’ mp3
At The Natural History Museum is out now on Tight Ship.
The album is on eMusic and iTunes, priced only £4.74. Do yourself a favour – go and buy it!