The canadian musical group Grounders reference Jagwar Ma, Tame Impala and the Zombies; "'60s sounds", "psychedelic nostalgia", "woozy" and "dreamy" are the main tags the press have copy-pasted from their last review of MGMT/Tame Impala/Washed Out. Before listening to Grounders, you already know that the Toronto quartet's debut album floats somewhere between Magical Mystery Tour, Madchester and LSD-induced kaleidoscope-sounds. "Float" as in "be high" – music for drug lovers, psychedelia hipsters (this music critic included) and Kevin Parker-devotees (idem). But is there something else to find in Grounders' music, behind the cross-references to the contemporary Psych Pop Greats and the historically accurate, but often reductive stereotype of "music from stoners for stoners"?
The catchiest songs, "Secret Friend" and second single "Drawing Space", stay in your head for a while, but they are far from being original. If you love Psych Pop, you will like these songs. The album sounds all pleasant, your brain cells instantly relax and the music recedes into the background. "Pull It Over Me" is barely different from a Mac DeMarco song – who himself already borders on easy listening. Grounders often switches from DeMarco's slackerdom to Tame Impala's daydreaming and back. On the ideal summer playlist, "Fool's Banquet" comes right between and . Even after multiple listens, you can't shake the feeling that you're listening to a Austin Psych Fest sampler, only without the rougher acts.
In the end, the answer to the initial question is still: no. Two things, however, save the album from being a trifle. First of all, there are still some tracks that suggest Grounders have their own voice. "Face Blind" and "No Ringer" are krauty at their core, even if they focus on the usual psychedelic synths. The first seconds of "Bloor Street and Pressure" promise a change in tone, but the song drifts off into well-trod reverb territory soon after; at the end of the song, Grounders make up for it through the use of small noises that wind through your auditory canals. Secondly, Grounders' nine songs are still songs you like to listen to a lot, even if the band are copycats. You simply can't resist the retro charme of "Drawing Space", much like you can't resist Melody Prochet and her Echo Chamber, who share the same sources of inspiration as Grounders. The promotion mail was right: Grounders is "a debut album that captures the true essence of what it means to be an emerging band in 2015." Namely to pay homage to the Holy Trinity of Psychedelic Music, the fathers (the Beatles), sons (MGMT) and holy ghost (Tame Impala). Because man is often no more than an image of the gods he has created for himself.
Best Tracks: Drawing Space, No Ringer, Pet UnoRelease Date: 17/07 // Nevado Music