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Album Review
No Constellation

No Constellation
by Grayson Gilmour

Flying Nun

Review Date
Reviewed by
Brannavan Gnanalingam

Grayson Gilmour’s latest solo album has gained considerable press for being the first album released by the newly re-independent Flying Nun. This piece of history has both good and bad aspects to it – the bad element is that it might be too easy to subsume the album within the larger Flying Nun narrative. However, the good news is that increased distribution would hopefully mean that this extremely talented artist gets a wider audience – especially as No Constellation is another excellent release by the Wellington musician.

Gilmour’s indie pop has progressed considerably from its earlier hardcore/punk roots which always betrayed an unabashed pop sensibility. While albums such as Phantom Limbs showed pop melodies mixing with Gilmour’s thunderous piano riffs, it always seemed a matter of time before he would release an album which would be unashamedly melodic. That’s not to say this album is predictable – Gilmour seems far too restless to let a melody lie. Opener ‘Loose Change’ crescendos into one almighty explosion before dissipating into nothingness. ‘I Am a Light!’ features propulsive piano and tuned percussion riffage, which eventually builds enough momentum that you feel it’s about to career off a cliff. ‘Gem Apple John’ features tinkling ivories segueing into a Beatles-esque melody and back again. Even potentially filler tracks like ‘Our Heads Collide’ feature beautiful harmonies with minimal instrumentation, in direct contrast to an otherwise dense album. Varied instrumentation, dynamic instrumentation and beautiful textures almost appear par for the course by the end.

Gilmour’s voice is much more assured in this album – critical given the overall quietness of the sound relative to his previous work. Perhaps if anything, this album could give a stronger sense of Gilmour’s personality, or showcase a stronger vision of the creator – there’s a disparity which perhaps stems from the album’s strangled construction in-between Gilmour’s work in So So Modern. But that aside, this is an excellent album from an artist who’s young and adventurous enough to warrant still being called precocious, and assured and complex enough to sound like it was made by a veteran.

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