JOHN GRANT - GREY TICKLES, BLACK PRESSURE
It’s been a spectacular journey, from a time when John Grant feared he’d never make music again or escape a life of addiction, to international accolades, collaborations with Sinead O’Connor, Goldfrapp and Elton John, and most recently a Best International Male Solo Artist nomination at the 2014 BRITS alongside the likes of Justin Timberlake and Drake. The next step in that journey comes on October 2nd when Grant will release his third solo album Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, produced by John Congleton (St. Vincent, Swans) and mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound. Lyrically and musically, the 12 original songs represent Grant’s most ambitious work, cementing his reputation as the most brutally honest, caustic, profound and funny diarist of the human condition.
“Grey Tickles” in the album title draws direct translation from “midlife crisis” in Icelandic, while “Black Pressure” translates to “nightmare” in Turkish, reflecting the darkly introspective subjects on the album. “I wanted to get moodier and angrier on this record,” explains Grant, “but I probably had a lot more fun making it.”
The album opens in an unsettling swirl of overlapping voices repeating 1st Corinthians 13:4 in multiple languages before dissolving into fuzz, and closes with the same passage read clearly, this time by a young girl. In between, Grant’s depth and range are vividly present as he further refines and entwines his two principal strands of musical DNA, the sumptuous tempered ballad and the taut, fizzing electronic pop song. “Voodoo Doll” is an ode to a depressed lover, drenched in bright synths and pulsing bass lines, while “Guess How I Know” is a bonafide hell-raiser, its snarling guitar licks layered with distortion as Grant sings about a toxic yet irresistible relationship. Title track “Grey Tickles, Black Pressure” blends swelling strings and choral harmonies with Grant’s darkly biting humor, as he tackles his HIV diagnosis with equal parts confusion and clarity (“I’m supposed to believe that there’s some guy who’ll take the pain away / There are children who have cancer, and so all bets are off / ‘Cause I can’t compete with that”). Tracey Thorn, Amanda Palmer and former Banshees drummer Budgie appear as guests on the album.
Rolling Stone calls Grant’s music “richly textured, both musically and emotionally” and NPR Music’s Bob Boilen says, “John Grant’s songs don’t mess around.” Grant recently performed with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra for BBC Radio 6 Music and just wrapped a North American tour with The Pixies. Grant will tour North America in support of the new music with a full band this October.
GREY TICKLES, BLACK PRESSURE TRACKLIST
2. Grey Tickles, Black Pressure
3. Snug Slacks
4. Guess How I Know
5. You and Him
6. Down Here
7. Voodoo Doll
8. Global Warming
9. Magma Arrives
10. Black Blizzard
12. No More Tangles