Published Oct 23, 2019Four of Arrows marks a massive step forward for Seattle five-piece Great Grandpa. While their debut, Plastic Cough, channelled emotion through tongue-in-cheek quips by way of grunge-inspired anthems, Four of Arrows turns to a more openly vulnerable tone with a restorative lustre.
Many of Four of Arrows songs feature unpredictable shifts mid-song, mindfully stitched together and strewn with salient hooks. At the start of album opener "Dark Green Water," vocalist Alex Menne quietly cries, "All things fade into dark green water down by the lake, mistakes were made and that's the heart of this pain," and after a momentary pause toward the end of the song, repeats this mantra again but with more despair and with the previously muted guitars blossoming into an overgrown wall of power. On "Digger" Pat Goodwin's tenderly strummed guitars make way for a howling shoegaze-y veneer and Menne alternating between peppery shrieks of "that's why I hate you!" and "that's why I love you!"
Menne has quietly become one of indie rock's most dynamic vocalists, going from pulled-back airy whispers on "Human Condition" to bright, twangular cadence on "Rosalie," pulling succinct, detailed melodies out of seemingly simple prose. "Bloom" elusively flows from saccharine pop-country to an orchestral outro with Menne's grandiose voice, leading into the brooding Radiohead-esque piano instrumental "Endling." Elsewhere, the twinkling banjo and ambrosial harmonies between Menne and Goodwin are lovingly rejuvenated by a lonely violin on the folksy "English Garden" and the soaring power pop of "Treat Jar" is a sumptuous, thrilling jam.
On Four of Arrows, Great Grandpa truly express their impressive range and have presented themselves in a polished manner that makes it seem like they've been doing it this way for years. In tarot, the four of arrows card represents rest and recovery after a period of exertion — a fitting description for Great Grandpa's newly energized album, full of unexpected twists and forked, enchanting melodies. (Double Double Whammy)