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Grey Tickles, Black Pressure [VINYL] Double LP

4.5 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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  • Grey Tickles, Black Pressure [VINYL]
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Product details

  • Vinyl (9 Oct. 2015)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Double LP
  • Label: Bella Union
  • ASIN: B00ZYY5YR6
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 53,788 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product description

John Grant's third album, the invitingly titled Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, is a veritable tour-de-force that further refines and entwines his two principal strands of musical DNA, the sumptuous tempered ballad and the taut, fizzing electronic pop song. There are newer musical accomplishments across its panoply of towering sound, like the title track's new steely demeanour, while the ominous drama of "Black Blizzard" echoes both John Carpenter and Bernard 'Black Devil Disco Club' Fevre's beautiful and icy synthscapes. The contagious, gleeful "You And Him" marries buzzing rock with a squelchy electronic undertow, while orchestral drama swathes the bad-dreamy "Global Warming" and the album's gorgeously aching widescreen finale "Geraldine".

Grey Tickles, Black Pressure was recorded in Dallas with producer John Congleton (St Vincent, Franz Ferdinand, Swans) - coincidentally the same state of Texas where Grant nailed his 2010 solo debut Queen Of Denmark in the company of Denton's wondrous Midlake. After that landmark return, which MOJO made its album of 2010, 2013's Pale Green Ghosts was made in Icelandic capital Reykjavik (where Grant has lived ever since), which entered the UK Top 20 in its first week and ended up as Rough Trade Shop's Album of the Year 2013, The Guardian's No.2 and in MOJO and Uncut's Top Five). Such recognition, iced by years of sell-out shows across Europe and a recent US tour as special invited guest of the Pixies, should allow the notoriously self-critical and insecure Grant the passing thought that Grey Tickles, Black Pressure will deservedly cement his reputation as the most disarmingly honest, caustic, profound and funny diarist of the human condition in the persistently testing, even tragic, era that is the 21st century.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
For me, not as striking as PGG, but still brutally funny and very cleverly arranged. I'm finding this album improves with repeat listening, whereas PGG was quite immediate. John's vocals were to the fore on PGG whilst the musical arrangements on this one are more complicated, so I found myself having to refer to the lyrics for several. 'Only' four stars as I'm comparing it with my early impression of PGG, which made quite an impact. Going to go out on a limb and suggest that this one can be quite overt and childish in places too; struggling to think of a more interesting contemporary songwriter, though.
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By Syriat TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Oct. 2015
Format: Audio CD
The follow up to the excellent Pale Green Ghosts sees John Grant returning triumphantly to Texas (where he recorded his first album) complete with his Icelandic fellows from the previous albums and a few chums. Bookended by two spoken pieces from Corinthians (you know the one used at weddings to describe love) the twelve tracks of Grey Tickles, Black Pressure sees Grant in fine form. Delivering dark lyrics, ballads and some funkier numbers to great effect. The title track shows the balladry of well but as ever the devil is in the lyrical detail as Grant moans about how 'there are children who have cancer, and so all bets are off, cause I can't compete with that.' Indeed his darkly cynical and cutting lyrical style is in great effect on this album. Snug Slacks sees him almost entering Beck territory musically and making snide comments about someone who has good looks in abundance, a topic he returns to on You and Him where he compares the subject of the song to Hitler and Pol Pot. Nice. Disappointing is a track which is certain to draw attention as it sees him listing things that are disappointing, he is joined in this by Tracey Thorn who marries her deadpan delivery with his brilliantly.

As an album it gradually moves the previous effort on to more funky territory whilst not really messing with that formula. There are no real surprises here except possibly one. Its as good as its predecessor and maybe a little better.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A magnificent album that challenges as it impresses, with black humour baiting everyone, liberals and conservatives alike. It is an album that will infuriate listeners or cause them to smile darkly. Great song follows great song follows great song, the quality unabated until the album finishes. It starts and ends with a poem that in its first version distorts and mutates, showing the Grant's essential bloodymindedness.

The dance beats and the beeps and synth sweeps and burps through the album lift it to another place, where it is infectious not only via the superb tunes and provocative words. A good place to start as a sampler for the album is "Guess How I Know". This is close to the album of the decade so far despite stiff competition in the form of Sleaford Mods' Divide and Exit, Courtney Barnett's Sometimes I Sit and Think And Sometimes I Just Sit, Ezra Furman's Perpetual Motion, Sharon van Etten's Are We There, Dexys' One Day I'm Going to Soar, Scott Walker's Soused, La Roux's Trouble in Paradise, Pere Ubu's Carnival of Souls, Go-Kart Mozart (UK version) - On the Hot Dog Streets, Black Lips' Arabia Mountain and David Corley's Available Light. CLARENCE CLARITY - "NO NOW" is better (see lyrics of this not just music), but Grey Tickles, Black Pressure may be the next best.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I discovered John Grant a few years ago when he appeared on the Jools Holland show.performing material from the Pale Green Ghosts album. I loved the combination of witty but dark lyrics overlaid on top of sweeping electronic and/or orchestral backdrops. This latest album is much more a development of this material than the earlier work on Queen of Denmark. I find the tracks more consistent in quality, richer in musical texture, and more experimental vocally. The flip side is that I don't feel any of the tracks have the same brilliance as "Queen of Denmark", "Pale Green Ghosts" and "Glacier". The good news is that the more I listen to some of the more esoteric songs, like "Voodoo Doll", the more I grow to like them.
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Format: MP3 Download
I am slowly falling in love with this music. It is not an instant shallow 'like' of an album. The electronic sounds are a stretch for me but oh I like this expansion of my musical education. I am wrong - it is not about learning to enjoy, rather it is a sneaky seduction with sounds, language and voices combining to create a glorious and fun experience. It's already hard to chose but my standout tracks so far are 'Down Here' for instant emotional gratification, 'Magma Arrives' and 'Black Blizzard' for splendour with 'Snug Slacks' for kicks and giggles.
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Format: Audio CD
I was looking forward to this album since it was announced, as John Grant has been (and is) one of my favourite artists in recent years.

My opinion may change over time, but after living with the album for a week, I haven't been able to shake my feelings of disappointment. For those who are not new to John Grant, musically the album has more in common with Pale Green Ghosts than Queen of Denmark. It is mostly electronic, although has some songs which could fit quite easily on either of his previous albums (e.g. Geraldine, or the Beatles-esque title track). My main 'problem' with the album is that the first half is considerably weaker than the second half, and generally weaker than anything on his previous two solo albums. It is difficult to get the listener back on board after such a ropey first half. This is purely personal taste, I guess, but songs such as Snug Slacks (in particular), Voodoo Doll and Guess How I Know are far from John Grant's strongest material. I would liken them to 'Sensitive New Age Guy' (my personal low point of PGG) or Supernatural Defibrillator (from Queen of Denmark bonus tracks). If that sounds like a good thing to you, then this might turn out to be your favourite John Grant album yet.

I'm desperate to like this album, but when I listen to it, I just can't shake the feeling that most of the tracks on the first half are sub-standard (and not just sub-John Grant-standard). I wouldn't even listen the whole album again if it wasn't by an artist that I rate very highly. Things pick up for me with Global Warming and the remainder of the album is much stronger after the mid-point, if not hitting the heights of the previous two albums.
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