On May 10th, Greys will release their third LP via Carpark Records, ‘Age Hasn’t Spoiled You’. To prep us for the upcoming album, the band have shared the video for third and final single from the record, Kill Appeal. The first single, These Things Happen boasted a diverse collection of influences, and is perhaps the most melodic song in Greys’ catalog to date, featuring Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young-style harmonies and even a brief acoustic passage, whereas the second single, the lurching, feedback washed Arc Light might be the band’s most abrasive, engaging an almost industrial sonic palette. Watch the video for Greys’ Kill Appeal via YouTube below.
Kill Appeal sees the band opening a new bag of tricks yet again. Beginning with an electronic drum beat, a departure in itself for a band whose previous releases were largely recorded in live-off-the-floor, full band sessions, the track builds slowly, with sparse, processed guitar parts dotting the mix before the arrangement gathers together into an ominous synth-abetted buzz with a tone that recalls a horror movie soundtrack. This gives way to breakdown constructed of drum rolls and sampled saxophone squeals, before the band reconstitutes itself for a hypnotic outro featuring frontman Shehzaad Jiwani repurposing a quote from the author, playwright and activist James Baldwin. In the accompanying CoS feature Jiwani expands on the way Baldwin influenced the track, saying that his vocal delivery was inspired by the late author’s compassionate approach to debate, addressing the “systematic displacement of marginalized people” by attempting to “sing softly about the issues rather than yell them over noise.”
Later in his conversation with CoS, Jiwani details the concept behind the song and its accompanying video, directed by Jiwani and Allison Johnston:
“The lyrics of ‘Kill Appeal’ deal with various aspects of living in a major metropolitan city, from old neighbourhoods being rapidly mutilated to suit the needs of wealthy newcomers to the increasingly imposing police presence. The video seeks to convey still more elements of city living in this era of content rot, constant surveillance and civil unrest by creating snapshots of several different facets of life through the lens of a half-baked millennial flipping channels or scrolling through their Instagram feed. Spoiled for choice, and none of the options are the right one.”
Greys’ latest effort, ‘Age Hasn’t Spoiled You,’ will be released on May 10th on Carpark Records. A richly textured experience, the album draws influence from krautrock, industrial, hip hop, dub, psychedelia, jazz, ambient, drone and more, sometimes within the same song. That this mix of sounds never obscures the album’s sharp focus is a testament to the group’s finely honed approach to both songwriting and production. This is most evident on the seven minute centerpiece, Aphantasia, which careens from noise rock rave-ups to trip-hop grooves and back again as Jiwani ruminates on subjects like colonialism, cultural erasure, drug use and religion in its multifaceted verses. Elsewhere, on Kill Appeal, electronic drums pound and pummel before caving into a free jazz freakout, only to return for the song’s climax with a lyrical allusion to James Baldwin. Inspired by the stylistic sprawls of classic third albums like The Beastie Boys’ ‘Check Your Head,’ PJ Harvey’s ‘To Bring You My Love’ or The Talking Heads’ ‘Fear Of Music’ – records where artists reinvented themselves as something far beyond what was previously thought possible for them – on ‘Age Hasn’t Spoiled You,’ the always ambitious Greys attempt to throw off the weight of genre or expectation, and break through the boundaries of their sound.
Below is a conversation with Greys’ frontman Shehzaad Jiwani regarding the release of ‘Age Hasn’t Spoiled You’:
Q: Is the title mean about you guys getting older?
A:Not exactly. We mean this current age, the present. Your era. Your past. Your generation. It doesn’t define you. It’s rebelling against the notion that you are a product of your time. We’re taking a snapshot of things exactly as they are, from our perspective, if only to break free from it.
Q: But you aren’t kids anymore, either. This is your third album. How does it feel?
A:If nothing else, we’re confident that we are doing our best to push ourselves forward without looking back. Albums like Check Your Head, To Bring You My Love, Fear Of Music, Microcastle, Reign In Blood, To Pimp A Butterfly, Some Rap Songs… All of these artists cast off their shackles on their third albums and they were reborn as a greater version of themselves. That’s what we had our sights on – a reincarnation of sorts. I couldn’t tell you if we accomplished that, but I can say that we tried to push ourselves about as far outside our own perception of what a “rock band” can be while still retaining certain characteristics that make us sound like Greys.
Q: When you say “shackles,” do you mean you felt restricted creatively prior to this?
A:In many ways, yes. Constrained by our own self-imposed limitations, like speed, or volume, or methodology, like only recording live to tape. We existed primarily as a live band and our old records reflected that, but lately, the traditional rock setup just wasn’t inspiring us. This time, we spent a year in the studio, wrote about 20 songs, and embraced the challenge of making something more cerebral and cinematic. Recreating it live never factored into the equation. We entertained every idea that came to our heads using whatever we could get our hands on: samplers, drum machines, synths, tape loops, whatever. It was more about experimenting with tension, dynamics, space and textures than brute force.
Q: The lyrics seem to embody that, sitting more in an abstract zone than your usual, topical approach.
A:We tried to do something more impressionistic than literal. The socio-political stuff is still in there, because it’s impossible not to internalize what is going on around you, but the gaze is inverted back inward to dissect how your surroundings can shape you, and how you either resist that or become a product of them. The goal was to spark several conversations at once, not just home in on a specific subject for each track. If yourtakeaway from “Kill Appeal” is that it’s about gentrification, police brutality, Indigenous rights, mass shootings, drug dependency, James Baldwin, or all of the above, there’s no wrong answer.
Q: The music similarly goes in many different directions at once. Were you concerned that the variety of sounds on display might cloud your overall vision?
A:We’ve been a band for eight years. The four of us playing together will always sound like ourselves, no matter what. The bands we grew up listening to incorporated many different styles into their music. The way algorithms work – on social media, on streaming services, whatever – they want to shepherd you into boxes that make your personality easy to compartmentalize. People aren’t like that. Life isn’t like that. This record speaks to the chaos and unpredictability of our day to day lives as we skirt the very real possibility of nuclear annihilation. It represents where we are at right now, particularly as this middle child generation who grew up without a workforce to enter and without technology being an extension of our bodies and minds. It would be a betrayal of our age not to address these complicated situations in our music and lyrics.
2. Arc Light
3. Constant Pose
4. These Things Happen
5. Kill Appeal
6. Western Guilt
9. Burning Chrome
10. Shelley Duval In 3 Women
11. Static Beach
Greys’ ‘Age Hasn’t Spoiled You’ will be released via Carpark on May 10th. It’s available for purchase here.