Grandadbob - Garden Of Happiness

Thomas 11/12/2006

Rating: 4/5

Grandandbob are a twosome named Dave and Vanessa who, with the aid of a string section, plenty of imagination, and er… Brian Blessed, have created a record swimming in ideas and rich in diversity. Pigeonholing the album into a genre is more or less impossible, although it never self consciously shies away from a tune. Is it electronica? Pop? Too organic for the former, and with too much depth for (most definitions of) the latter, it's also very well produced; songs are filled out to perfection but thankfully, never overcooked. Acoustic and electric instruments add warmth throughout while real strings are employed with skill, not once slathered over the song like marmalade, as often happens in lesser hands.

Opener 'Come With Me' is sunny acoustica floated on sensitive percussion while 'Shake There' rubs buzzing rock guitar with a brash dance beat. The record's highpoint comes five tracks in with 'Hide Me', a gorgeous, crystal clear, personal yet poppy elegy to doubt that would sound perfect on even the fuzziest of radios. Almost as pleasing is 'English Summer' which slides in on acoustic, whistling and glockenspiel with the opening line “the fall of cool rain on hot stone,” and feels just as refreshing. As an added, somewhat unusual bonus, it segues into the record's title track with a short, poetic spoken word piece enthusiastically read by, of all people, Brian “GORDON'S ALIVE!!” Blessed.

You can't help but smile, and whilst not every track on the album is as memorable, the only time it baffles is some time after tuneful closer 'Tides' fades out, and a hidden track creeps quietly in. It's the sound of something frying on a stove (it's not credited, so we'll be forced to assume bacon) for seven, utterly unnecessary minutes. So whilst less 'doing a Kid A' and more 'doing the dishes', bizarre add-ons aside, the route to the Garden of Happiness is one certainly worth taking time to discover.