Snout To The Grindstone

“Acoustic Casio-powered psychedelic junk-pop-folk – this is one description given of The Paraffins, and after just one listen of their debut album, ‘Snout To The Grindstone’, you’ll realise that it’s actually pretty damn accurate. The intro is slightly deceiving as a taste of what is to come but in a good way. With jungle drums and demonic distorted vocals, it creates a very eerie setting for the record. Before long, ‘Life’s Too Beautiful’ kicks in with an equally dark and eerie theme yet much more up-tempo with dancey elements and funky cabaret undertones accentuated by Billy Paraffin’s sleek whispery vocals.

‘Walled City’ is, again, up-tempo with similarly smooth sleek vocals as Billy’s Scottish accent bleeds through every now and again. The rock organ gives a bit of a ska feel blended with the continuous eclectic cabaret theme and lines like “This black hole has a silver lining” are an example of the record’s interesting lyrics. ‘People Like You’ is similar to what you would have expected after hearing the intro. It’s the darkest track on the record, almost gothic with its manic growling vocals and music not unlike Mogwai’s heavier material. It’s a short but exciting burst of energy in the middle of the album. Instrumental ‘Crestfallen’ offers an almost gypsy-esque theme with Egyptian-infused rhythms. This band literally will try a bit of everything! ‘Something Good’ stands out as a fairly straightforward poppy track in its delivery. With a bittersweet melancholic charm similar to The Cure’s earlier offerings and with its understated, modest synth melodies, it’s possibly one of the few radio-friendly tracks on the album.

‘Burnt Out Boy’ is difficult to comprehend and shows the deep complexity of the band – or perhaps I’m reading too much into it! A medley of confused instruments, it definitely sounds interesting in some respect but to any normal listener, it will just sound like some toddlers are trying to start a rock band. ‘Vampire Hours’ sees the welcome return of some structure and rhythm and once again, the sleek breathy vocals of Billy are laid upon dark yet up-tempo music. Along with the lyrics, the almost demonic backing vocals help to give the title some context. Closing track, ‘Braving The Winter’ begins with the sound of heavy rain followed by layered vocals. The song creates a funky and warm vibe as The Cure’s influence creeps back in again. What’s notably interesting is that the backing vocals almost mimic the harsh winter weather, proving The Paraffins to have a great talent for using their instruments in interesting and unusual ways. Once again the track builds to create a manic climax, almost like a Scottish Devotchka – a very fitting end to the record as a whole.”  Nina Glencross, Is This Music?



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