Album Review: The Radioactive Grandma – The Radioactive Grandma
OverviewGenre: Acoustic, Indie
Pros:It's competently composed and executed with a palpable diligence.
Cons:It's too bland and derivative to rise above the sea of lumpen indie rock acts that currently exist for no good reason.
A diligently crafted but uninspired set of understated acoustic-driven songs.
It’s unfortunate that there’s a number on The Radioactive Grandma’s self-titled debut called ‘Robot Song,’ because this unwittingly sums up every tune on the album. That is to say, the music sounds as if it were produced by robots, and not in a good Kraftwerk/Daft Punk way.
Take ‘Waves,’ for example, the sixth song on the album. It starts with a promising enough Foo Fighters-esque intro, but fails to develop assuredly thereafter, ultimately resorting to the same, tired acoustic-driven indie rock that dominates most of the album.
The band comprises of Johno Leader (vocals, acoustic guitar), Peter Donohue (electric guitar) and Ben McCarthy (cajon) – or ‘two guitars, a box, and vocal harmonies,’ as Ringmaster Review once succinctly described them.
While some may appreciate the level of effort the band have clearly undertaken, and their ability to cope with decidedly limited resources, these aspects of the record cannot excuse the series of bland half-baked electric guitar riffs and limited musical palette evident throughout the album – it’s almost as if the band have listened to no one other than Coldplay and U2 their whole lives, with The Edge-aping electric guitar and anxiety-ridden Chris Martin-invoking vocals all-too-apparent.
The lyrics are equally disappointing. On ‘Waves,’ Leader sings: ‘You long for them to worship you the same/You want to stand out in this people parade.’ This is seemingly a lament about the band’s struggle to find fame and difficulty in emphasising their individuality, yet there’s no real depth or poetry to these words, and so ultimately, it just comes across as empty, immature moaning.
Worse still, ‘What Are You Running From’ includes the lines: ‘In this endless stream of information/It’s hard to focus my attention.’ Hence, Leader becomes the one millionth person to observe that yes, we are being exposed to unprecedented amounts of data in this internet age, and such a situation can feel overwhelming and perplexing at times. Consequently, I refuse to believe that, having waited their entire life to release this début album, they couldn’t do better than spout off such thoughtless clichés.
Indeed, the whole album feels like one giant cliché – and so, we return to the robot theme.
The Radioactive Grandma can thus include as many harmonies as they want in a song, yet without the necessary wit, innovation and soulfulness, they’ll amount to little more than the epitome of a bad imitation of rock music.