Album Review

Past Time

Past Time

by Grass Widow


Kill Rock Stars
6.5 / 10
6th December 2010

Reviewed by Paul Gallagher


A grass widow is a woman who's divorced or separated, or a one who's an abandoned mistress. There's a melancholy there in modern life, in which these sorts of circumstances are all too common where infidelity rules and half of all marriages don't last. It provides appropriate spark for a punk-leaning pop girl group - Grass Widow - who've been picked up by indie giant Kill Rock Stars, and who've released Past Time as a three-piece performing tracks reminiscent of heritage provided by Sleater Kinney and the now sadly-defunct LA DIY art-punks and No Age pals, Mika Miko. Along with the resurgent post punk aesthetic being bandied about by the likes of the excellent Vivian Girls and the Captured Tracks stable, Grass Widow provide a slight sense of refrain, leaning back into the armchair of melody and refrain rather than that pushing the boundaries of their reverb-saturated and noise-oriented peers.

 

I first became aware of Grass Widow due to a self-titled EP doing the blog rounds close to two-years ago - a scratchy, tumultuous affair led by a superb opening track. However, Past Time is a lot less DIY schmaltz and more up-scale than Grass Widow's previous work. Classical strings appear in the opener Uncertain Memory and again in Give Me Shapes - this ain't protest punk but it's still ribald in its charm. Stand out tracks, Shadow and Fried Egg, are both worthy of attention. Both are steeped with the uncertainties of the milieu of modern life. 'Sleeping on the floor, the lines are breaking, light spills from under the door, wake me if you can' belies the air of suspicion with which they approach life. Grass Widow are wary, eyeing up what's what and giving a matter-of-fact commentary about what they see around them. There's no scene-whore patter here, just honest musicianship which comes across in a genuine way. 

For all the upgraded recording quality and earnest demeanor, there are moments where Past Time falls flat - where the faint jangles of guitar and wispy vocals struggle to spark, which is something of an indictment for a San Francisco surf-pop jaunt who should know how to join the dots. Nevertheless, there's enough of an overriding ethos to make Past Time a successful record. It's short and sweet, glorious in moments and satisfactory in others. Never bad, but not always emphatic. Well worth a listen for an summer's afternoon spent lolling about on the deck, or a quiet roll through the neighbourhood on your bmx or fixie.

 





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