On a first listen, Grammatics' eponymous debut comes across like a neutered At The Drive In (Sparta) covering Red Light Company and Foals' back catalogue. This is wholly unsettling comparison so it's with happy heart that repeat listens volunteer hidden depths. What upsets initial spins is the vocal, pitched somewhere between an indie-schmindie mew and The Mars Volta's wail. In places, there is too heavy a reliance placed on this vocal, as it is passable at best. It would have been better to concentrate on the music, which, for the most part, is quite intriguing. `D.I.L.E.M.M.A' starts with math-rock intricacy, `Murderer' proudly hosts a menacing post-punk base line.
Grammatics take these influences and add a dash of punk-funk to create a sound that in parts recalls fellow Leeds band The Sunshine Underground tackling dusty and emotional Puressence anthems. Radiohead comparisons, in particular with OK Computer, seem a little misplaced. Not to tread on any toes, but the credible Duels may be closer to the mark.
There is a certain integrity to the album that gives it substance, a desire to concentrate on credibility rather than the charts - and they manage it, though only just. Without elements such as the album's pleasing strings (`Broken Wing' and elsewhere), the considered electro-arrangements, or the niggling affection for all things Cedric Bixler (`Rosa Flood'), they could have fallen foul of popular attention, which would have undoubtedly taken off their already rounded corners (see `The Vague Archive') and resulted in a collection of blandish, indie pop-rock. They risk being labelled competent but shrug-worthy, also rans if you will, but happily their attention to detail, the grammar to their essay, should lift their collective neck above water and deliver them into the contender category.