Has it really been eight years since grasshopper (small ‘g’) released their debut EP? Sadly, it has. But in a way this is something to rejoice. Over the years the band have released four EPs. Each one showing a progression in sound, and scope, from the one before it. Each were filled with that kind of single-minded determination that all artists need. A single-mindedness that what they were doing was right and the pay off would be worth it. Their debut album Scuttle is that pay off. And it is very much worth the wait.
The nine track that make up Scuttle are propulsive post-punk anthems for the unheard. The compositions are claustrophobic. Whilst listening to ‘October’ you get the feeling that the walls are slightly closing in on you. This is down to the muscular interplay between Rachel Garrett’s understated drumming and Luis Fedrick’s bass work. Frontman Javi Fedrick’s vocals and guitar work are given a firm foundation for their intricate runs. Vocally Fedrick’s baritone soars above the cacophony below. As it gently drifts you are reminded of smoky pubs. Wherever you looked, above you there were billows of smoke gently lapping at the ceiling.
Live, grasshopper has an intensity that is hard to describe. After a few jocular glances between themselves – they are almost embarrassed about the attention they are being given – they launch into music that exists between The Cure, Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen. From the opening of ‘Obsession/Repetition’ you experience this same feeling, well apart from the glances.
The standout moment on Scuttle is the final track ‘The Great Unravelling’. Uncharastically, grasshopper have opened up the obsidian composition to allow some space. As everything opens up, ebon synths appear, adding another level of texture. Throughout ‘The Great Unravelling’ the tension is ratchetted up. But grasshopper do a clever thing. Instead of letting all this tension build to a crescendo, they just keep the tension building through repetition. With each repetition the catchy guitar riff becomes slightly more unhinged. The more unhinged it becomes the more you don’t want it to peak. You want that feeling to last a little bit longer.
Scuttle is an album eight years in the making. And it shows. The songs contain that swagger from being performed live, sometimes for a hostile audience. The kinks have been ironed out. The emphasis is put on the right words and most importantly the songs sound fantastic. The chaff from past live sets has been separated and what we are left with are lean and svelte tracks ready to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world. The downside with Scuttle is that the band’s influences are being displayed with big broad brushstrokes. Which on one hand is great. They clearly love what that love, but at times the songs feel two dimensional. Which is a shame as grasshopper feel like they are on the cusp of something great. This isn’t an album to scuttle away from, but to embrace. If you give them time grasshopper could be your next obsession.