Madrugada

Grit

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Madrugada's third album in four years, Grit, starts off with a considerable swagger on two grimy rock numbers: "Blood Shot Adult Commitment" and lead-off single "Ready." Sure, Madrugada's previous album, the dark The Nightly Disease, had its rockier moments, but nothing as in-your-face as this opening pair. On these two songs, and on the notably weaker Kurt Vonnegut-influenced "Come Back Billy Pilgrim," you can clearly hear a Stooges influence. "Try" is another rocker, more in the vein of Let It Bleed-era Rolling Stones. It works pretty well, but at the same time seems a bit pointless -- swinging rock & roll clearly isn't Madrugada's greatest strength. Characteristically, the biggest hit Grit spawned was the softly crooned ballad "Majesty," where minor key acoustic guitars and strings dominate the sound. The rest of the album pretty much consists of the more traditional Americana-tinged minor key ballads and the poetry-recital-with-musical-backing-styled numbers that Madrugada always had done, monotonous backing grooves highlighting vocalist Sivert Høyem's lyrics, like the eponymous "Madrugada." Several of their greatest songs are of this variety, but on this album Sivert Høyem occasionally goes a bit over the top, and it ends up a bit affected, especially on "Got You," with its dark tales of urban decadence. All in all, this is the most varied of their studio albums thus far, but also, regretfully, their weakest. Though not at all bad, it just seems a bit unfocused, and, with a few notable exceptions, such as the aforementioned rock-swaggerers and "Majesty," it lacks the memorable songs and performances Madrugada had delivered on their previous studio recordings.

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