Album Review: The Grand Mals Captivate on Eponymous Debut
Gabe Klingler-Horn, Tori Christie, Dan Carr, Will Fredette, and Taylor MacMillan began playing together as The Grand Mals just over a year ago after sharing the stage together with different bands, including ToriEndOfStory, Pacer Test, and El Modernist. Current staples of the Capital Region’s DIY scene, the group cites house venues like Sheeptown and The Rat Den as some of their favorite locations to have performed over the course of their budding career. They have now expanded their music from live performances to the realm of recordings, releasing a captivating seven-track album.
The release combines influences from indie-pop acts like MGMT and M83 with psychedelic and progressive rock sounds reminiscent of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and Post Animal. The opening track, “Building Houses,” showcases this blend by contrasting impressive riffage and odd time signatures with beautifully layered pop vocals. The song’s harmonies, both vocally and instrumentally, are sure to pique any listener’s interest.
As a whole, the release is incredibly immersive. Its creative song-to-song transitions increase its cohesiveness, while its unique soundscapes help it stand out as a novel and exceptional body of work. The track “Vacation Houses,” evocative of Weezer’s “Island In The Sun,” discusses a bittersweet longing for a getaway from the monotonies of everyday life described on “People of Pine Hills.” Such lyrical connections further solidify the unity of the record, keeping the listener invested as if it is one long story that needs to be told uninterrupted from start to finish.
Notably, the album also incorporates multiple exciting collaborations. The JoeTaurone “Urethane” feature came to fruition in about 30 minutes because the song called for a “divebomb-ish faux-shoegaze type guitar part” played on his aluminum-neck Jazzmaster. The band reached out to guitarist Nico Chasty about providing a guest solo for “Winter’s Cold” because of a recommendation from Klingler-Horn’s brother, who had seen him in concert and referred to him as “one of the nastiest players he’d ever heard.” Chasty’s contribution elevates the song’s climax, providing the perfect payoff for the nearly seven-minute-long epic and one of the album’s best moments. The closing track includes a feature from Z Houcine, AKA baddreamadventure, who is also part of the live band; their contribution came naturally. The result is an exciting rock track complete with the peppy guitar riffage and quirky humor of a Spinal Tap song!
Overall, The Grand Mals’ eponymous debut provides a fresh, exhilarating listen thanks to a tasteful amalgamation of contrasting musical ideas. The album is available on streaming platforms today, and you can hear it performed in full at the band’s album release show on October 14 at No Fun in Troy before they embark on a week-long tour across the Northeast later this month.
Follow the band on Instagram @thegrandmals for more information about the band, their album, and their upcoming shows.