Review by Dom Vigil
The Griswolds’ new album, High Times For Low Lives is easily one of the most ambitious and diverse releases of 2016. Chronicling the highs and lows of relationships, The Griswolds draw influences from R&B and soul all the way to pop and electronic and blend every sound together effortlessly throughout all fourteen tracks.
Kicking things off the right way is “Role Models,” which is groovy and fun to listen to, spectacular vocals hooking you right away and blending perfectly with playful instrumentals. Although there is quite a bit going on musically in the opening track, every single instrument and vocal part works well together. Nothing sounds out of place, and you’ll want to dance as the song insists, “We’ve got nothing to lose.” Keeping the energy high is the following song, “Out Of My Head,” which perfectly depicts the feeling of being crazy about someone.
The third song, “Birthday” is where it becomes apparent that High Times For Low Lives is more than just catchy dance songs. Slow and a little more soulful, “Birthday” takes the energy of the first two songs and flips it on its head, all while keeping the party going.
One of the strongest songs on the album though is definitely “YDLM,” which features guest vocals from Lizzo. The sound on this track is timeless, catchy as hell and larger than life. Coupled with Michael Jackson-esque vocals, this infectious song is sure to get stuck in your head, and you won’t be complaining. It’s also in “YDLM” where the wide array of influences really becomes apparent, but nothing sounds out of place or choppy. One moment, the album is very R&B and funk influenced and the next, it’s sparkling pop and soul. The Griswolds manage to bend genres and experiment with different sounds without breaking a sweat.
After “YDLM” comes “Rufio,” where things really start to slow down and become more emotional. Where the first few tracks really reflect the spark of meeting someone new and the highs of falling in love, “Rufio” is where it becomes more serious. Vocally, you can really hear the heartbreak, longing and desperation in this track and “James Joint” a few songs later. The hypnotic and slow “Hate That I Don’t Hate You” really drives this theme home with a sound similar to The Neighbourhood. Although instrumentally, this song is more minimalistic than the first half of the album, it is very emotionally charged and raw.
“Looking For Love” is where things begin to pick up again, and man, do they pick up. This song not only contrasts well with “Hate That I Don’t Hate You,” but it’s so high energy and massive that it’ll make your head spin. Everything about “Looking For Love” is flawless, from the incredible vocal work and relatable lyrics all the way to the wild songwriting and instrumentals. The only thing that really tops this massive track are the final two songs, “High Times For Low Lives” and “I Want It All.” The raw and emotional title track leads into the massive and beautiful closer with ease, and by then, you won’t want it to end.
High Times For Low Lives is a roller coaster ride from start to finish. By bending genres, The Griswolds are able to chronicle the highs and lows of falling in love, dealing with heartbreak and moving on, and they make it sound easy. Each and every song on this album is carefully created with both the sound and lyrical content in mind, the songwriting directly reflecting the stories behind each track, and the result is the perfect sophomore release from The Griswolds.
Listen to "Role Models," "Looking For Love" or "High Times For Low Lives"
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