Two years ago, Rejoicer, came out, putting Grooms on the map, at least for a little bit. In those two years, the group has really put in their time figuring out their style, and it’s going to pay huge dividends in 2011. Prom is a record full of tracks tied together cohesively, yet each track is completely able to stand alone as an undeniable hit.
“Tiger Trees” opens with sampled drum beats and a repetitive guitar, sort of like an ambient opener for a Mogwai song, but moments later, cymbals crash, noise washes in, and you’re stuck in the melody bubbling beneath the track. Here you’ll be intrigued by Grooms‘ ability to slither in and out of discordant atmospherics and melodious washes of noise. Beauty in noise seems to be a huge theme from the get go as you enter into “Prom.” It’s a youthful discussion lyrically, moving from the song’s title to discussion of the Smiths in one’s bedroom, but you’ll find yourself wrapped up in the line “I wanna be friends with you.”
Perhaps it’s just me, but while people can probably throw around a Sonic Youth reference here and there, due entirely to the loud quiet loud noise element, I occasionally hear later 90s indie rock heroes such as Built to Spill. ”Expression Of” has that same meandering quality that the best BoS tracks had, and vocally, you can definitely hear a little Doug Martsch channeling. Part of the allure of Prom is that the band seemingly drop references to various bands throughout, such as the nod to Deerhunter in “Skating With a Girl,” but Grooms owns the sound; they make it entirely their own, wrapping it up in a unique blend of quieting melodies juxtaposed with distortion and feedback.
If you wanted to nit-pick here, perhaps you could call for a bit of a more polished production value, as some tracks tend to rattle perhaps too much for their own good. That being said, that’s one of the interesting qualities here, as the band clearly is marking their own territory within the realms of their forefathers. “Into the Arms,” comes late into the album, and this is perhaps the most Thurston Moore-ish song, even down to the lyrics, but the vocal delivery takes on a character of it’s own, allowing you to focus on the song’s construction, made more remarkable by the fact that the bass line seems to live just beneath the surface of the song, letting the cutting guitar chords roam free.
Sure, there’s definitely some landmark references throughout Prom, but everything has roots in something nowadays. Grooms succeeds in their endeavors because you clearly see their dedication to crafting their own space within the confines of noisy indie rock. It’s a place you’ll need to delve into, traveling with the band from start to finish on this most excellent journey, leaving you feeling fulfilled and rewarded for giving this record the deserved time.
Download: Grooms – Tiger Trees [MP3]