Release Date: Sep 16, 2014
Record label: Carpark Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Noise Pop
Though a recording trio and touring quartet as of 2013, GRMLN really refers to guitarist-founder Yoodoo Park. His two albums employ a full lineup frolicking among enough power chords to perform Blink-182’s entire discography, but on GRMLN’s first release, 2012’s Explore EP, the drum machine rocked harder than the record’s single living musician: Park’s surf-hymn overdubbing and glistening, crisscrossed guitars signified as bedroom-pop for its own sake, which it was. At 17, he recorded experimental sketches for personal driving music; at 19, he released the songs under the name GRMLN, using an asphalt slash through NorCal greenery as cover art and counterpoint to the impish pseudonym.
Soon Away shows that Yoodoo Park's '90s-worshipping sound has legs and a big, often breaking, heart. The musical makeover he undertook on Empire feels more genuine on several levels: on songs like "Jaded," the punk-pop sound of GRMLN's debut feels more fiery and less like a pose. Park wrings more emotions out of his chugging riffs and stinging solos, whether it's "Avoider"'s frustration or the tenderness of "Faux," one of the few times on the album where he's abandoned instead of the abandoner.
It’s difficult to associate the hardiness of ‘Soon Away’ with the sort of dreamy, summery guitar melodies that first got the 19-year-old GRMLN recognised back in 2012. In those days it was Yoodoo Park’s own outlet, a moniker adopted to release the kind of tracks so in keeping with the surfer aesthetic they almost felt like the remnants of waves washing up on shore. With last year’s full-length debut ‘Empire’ signalling a significant shift from those earlier releases, the transformation from solo teenage surf pop to gritty lo-fi pop punk is seemingly brought to conclusion with ‘Soon Away’.
A reasonable first reaction upon playing GRMLN‘s third full-length (counting previous release Empire, despite the 23-minute run-time) would be to check whether one’s headphones were plugged in all the way. There was something missing in the music; something that was never a problem for power-chord flagbearers Blink-182 and The Lemonheads: punchiness. That one-two punch of awesome that makes the heads nod and the fists pump hard, where loudness edges out over fidelity.