Death From Above 1979’s star shone brightly if relatively shortly, and garnered many diehard fans (including this website’s overlord, whose favourite t-shirt was once that pink two-headed heffalump number, I might add.) Bearing this in mind, you’d imagine this erstwhile hardcore contingent to get excited that a half of the duo here returns with a new forty minutes’ worth of material. Although without even so much as hearing a solitary note in anger, we see that Sebastien Grainger is still sporting the sort of semi-ironic facial hair atop his top lip to suggest he may not necessarily be at the cutting edge of contemporary music right now…
The problem with Yours To Discover is that a lot of the songs (Your Body Works, Going With You, yadda yadda yadda) sound like offcuts from some lesser known ‘80s teen movie – obscure sequel, Ferris Bueller’s Day On: Rooney’s Detention, or perhaps the ugly duckling before the resplendent swan that was Pretty in Pink, Boring in Brown. That isn’t to say that they’re bad per se, but rather that they’re really not up to much. It’s been done before, and has been done better by the people that Grainger is so clearly aping this particular time of asking – flagrant influences such as Prince, Simple Minds, and even bloody Wang Chung. It’s a relatively easy record – easy to listen to, if not strictly a dreaded easy listening record – but it’s likely safe to say that it won’t incite anything like that same kind of semi-religious fervour his previous incarnation once did: without wanting to sound wholly retrospective here, but what was so exciting about DFA 1979 was that they were new, and sounded fresh. A band with just a bassist and a drummer? Whut? Yours To Discover, by contrast, lacks freshness and so too a sense of runaway excitement.
My favourite moment was I’m Looking For A Hand, with its insouciantly strummed acoustic, our Sebastien doing his best Walter Schreifels impression propped up by a sort of chill out, dare I say it Dido-esque backbeat. On reflection, it’s probably a comparison indebted to the fact that I couldn’t think of another less likely collaboration, but hey ho – whatever.
And apathy is key here, for both lyrically and indeed sonically, it all sounds a little bit hackneyed. Lines such as: “Did I say something wrong last night?/ I dunno – I was wasted!” (Waking Up Dead), and others informing of a friend on crack (The Streets Are Still A Mess) take us straight back to stumbling out of Koko circa 2005 after another wholly essential instalment of Club NME. Let’s Move To NYC meanwhile, with its ironic titling and prime plundering of another Sebastien, ou Sébastien’s back catalogue, is yet another that fails to proverbially launch.
You kind of get the feeling that Grainger’s that bit too old for this, and that he ought to have matured a bit by now, but he’s persisted with the drunken schmoozing and incessant partying. And, after a while, it’s his needy, imploring voice – a weird imitation of a Motown balladeer at times – that grates and gets you thinking Yours To Discover could really have benefitted from an editor of its own. It’s all too long, and starts to become extremely self-indulgent toward its conclusion: there are the half-baked, pseudo epics of Second Of Love and, worse still, a track entitled I Want Sebastien Grainger. Need I say more?
A mere footnote, therefore: purely chronologically, a song called I Don’t Believe In Ghosts, followed by another labelled Some People Are Ghosts Too Soon, irked me – make up your mind, man! ‘Cause with such precious little to discover here, Grainger’s latest is yours to discard absolutely irrespective of his perceptions as to a possible afterlife.
Released: November 11th, 2013 [Last Gang Records]