I was watching ‘Hogan Knows Best’ the other day, for those of you aren’t down with the kids, it’s one of the many fly on the wall type programmes following the Hulkster and his family.  On this particular episode Big H was ‘running wild’ on Mrs Hogan for the time that he was offered an endorsing deal for a new healthy eating Grill but she had elected to pass up the opportunity and went for a Shake Mixer instead.  The Grill in question turned out to be the best selling George Foreman Grill.  Clearly HH had missed out, big time.

 

You see its easy to miss out if you don’t get involved and give things a try, which is basically my message here, I doubt anyone has heard of Gran Ronde, but By Jove you’ll be missing out if you don’t get your ears pricked for this cracking debut (I do realise its not 1943 by the way but I’ve always wanted to lay down the phrase ‘By Jove’ in print, so there it is).

 

The fact that the band are often compared to The Bravery, doesn’t exactly get my persuasive review off to a great start, but try and imagine an album full of ‘Honest Mistake’ standard tracks instead of the drivel that actually did accompany that one great single.  Ok so now your getting the picture, this is not rocket science rock, so don’t expect Bloc Party sliced & diced vocals or any Gameboy sampled Nu-Rave tweakery.  However, that’s not to say you’ll be assaulted with the type of mush the likes of Plain Whites T’s put out either.  You see the Los Angeles 4 piece prove with this album that there is a satisfying middle ground between the cheesy-pop-floppy-cock-rock-slop that so many yanks seem to find it so easy to produce and the darkly delivered vocal, epic chiming guitar effects type thing, made so popular by the likes of Interpol and Editors. Confused? You should be but its all quite simple really…

 

Album opener ‘On And On’ is an Indie Pop anthem that makes me actually feel sorry for this years UK festival organisers for not signing them up to the main stages.  The chorus line bellows ‘On and on we sing the same song, cant you see its you and not me’, almost as if the band are mocking society for having not discovered their polished tune machine earlier.  Polished it is to, Producer Mark Needham clearly has a few tricks up his sleeve from his days with The Killers and Bloc Party.  From there on in its pretty much one massive tune after another of Chris Pearson’s stirring vocals echoing over Neil Parek’s swirling, razor wire riffs.

 

Take for example track 3 ‘Say Say Say’ which is as much of a life affirming, arms in the air, stadium anthem as I’ve ever heard.  Despite first obsessing over this track in mid 2005, it still doesn’t threaten the skip button 3 years on, which is testament to the quality of these deeply infectious yet technically solid efforts.  Take track 5 ‘Set if off’ where Pearson croons, ‘A spark is a fire, we just need to set it off…Dance to the beat as we burn this to the ground’.  Big Lyrics, big tunes, big album.

 

The slightly self indulgent ‘Gold’ represents the treading in a muddy puddle moment in the stroll around this otherwise highly consistent hit parade (think ‘Indie Rock N Roll on The Killers ‘Hot Fuss’).  If a slower more stripped down stop gap is what they were after, early song ‘Retrace’ would have done nicely.  Fret not though, on next track ‘Wisdom’ the Cali lads waste no time in re-engaging the listener with another swaggering hip shaker, which packs a big punch for its slender 2 mins 11 sec frame.

 

By the time tracks 8,9 & 10 arrive on most albums, the feeling for the filler to end and the good tracks at the beginning of the LP to start, is usually weighing heavily on my mind.  Not the case here however, the lads just keep slapping us round the ears with more hits, closer ‘Run me over’ is another example of what could and probably deserves to be a hit single. 

 

Once through with spinning the full 10 tracks you will find that although ‘Secret Rooms’ is far more sophisticated than the majority of the radio friendly hair gel crowd in LA they don’t take themselves too seriously to prevent the tracks urging you to dance, sing along and wear a big smile for the duration of your listen.  Ten tracks of perfectly crafted Rock N Roll majesty mean that Gran Ronde’s debut is so good I put my name on it…

 

Rich Melvin