The Grates – Secret Rituals
June 16, 2011
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Back in 2008, after a realization that 95% of my iTunes was male, I decided to listen to more female bands and artists. Amongst my listening for the next month included Regina Spektor, Kate Nash, Patti Smith and The Grates. Having just released Teeth Lost, Hearts Won, The Grates quickly became my favourite girl group. Not that there was a huge amount of competition. It’s been three years since then and this week marks the release of their follow up, Secret Rituals.It’s been a while between albums and I’ve had more ‘Patience’ than the band themselves (*boom boom*)
A lot has changed over these three years. Women have exploded on the underground music scene, with many airway darlings featuring at least one female vocalist. Think Architecture in Helsinki, The Jezabels, The Middle East, Washington, SIA and now Kimbra all feature exuberant Australian front-women. There is no longer a need to search for good female vocalists when we get them shoved down our throats. Triple J copped a fair bit of flack for the lack of women in their Hottest 100 of All Time countdown, and seem to be doing all they can to even up the agenda, mainly by playing mediocre music only because it features a woman.
I should get on with the review before I offend someone.
Despite wanting to listen to this album, I have found it very difficult to get into. Apart from lead single Turn Me On, there is no really strong point on the album. Their previous albums had a degree of playfulness to it, kinda like lead singer Patience Hodgson was herself a teenager. Secret Rituals is full of sappy love bull-shit that is more Taylor Swift than Patti Smith. It’s hard to work out where this album is supposed to be heading. Ignoring the vocals, there’s a lot of 90s Alternative Rock in the instrumentation. Sweet Dreams would not have been out-of-place on a No Doubt album and you can hear the Superjesus’ influence in With You. It just seems they’re trying to be something they’re not. I’m hoping to eventually come around to this album, as I am due to see them twice in the coming months, but at this point I’m slightly disappointed.