Snout To The Grindstone

“Electronic music moves in two directions, one diving headfirst into the future, making music that most of us mere mortals could never even begin to imagine, or inspires us to dabble with an illegally downloaded copy of Ableton then give up after five minutes because it sounds terrible, the other produces music that sounds like The Paraffins.

Essentially the creative output of one man called Billy and a cast of musically-literate friends, The Paraffins create crude electro-pop gems using keyboards with less sophistication than the sound capability of an early Nintendo console. When that technical limitation threatens to become a deficiency, The Paraffins just decide to try and make as much noise as possible, like a child battering away at Fisher Price toy.

There are a few occasions here where that approach pays off with glorious results. The unashamedly noisy ‘Life’s Too Beautiful’ and the wonderful ‘Something Good’ stand out as the best songs on this album, but these also seem like the most conscious efforts by the band to craft something resembling a conventional pop song. The rest of the time their music has the appearance of what you might expect to hear in an upmarket hotel lounge but stripped of all the grandeur and glamour til it resembles the sort of hotel that Jack Torrance might have experienced, something that Billy’s languid vocal delivery is ideally suited to.

Even if the band only soars to particularly impressive heights once or twice during the album, there’s still many enjoyable moments, the paranoid ‘People Like You’ sounds like Slipknot meets John Carpenter whilst self-deprecatingly mocking their low-key approach with a (presumably intentional) moment of mobile phone signal interference. Then there’s the Ravel-esque ‘Biking Girl’ which laments the loss of a former cycling companion in overly sincere tones.

They may lack the sophistication of their peers but like a less-glitzy Hot Chip, The Paraffins, with good humour and a willingness to revel in the simplicity of their music, push on into the vanguard of retro electro-pop. Snout To The Grindstone stutters at times, but this is music that was never meant to be perfect anyway.” 7/10 Euan Wallace, The 405

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