Grand National

Kicking the National Habit

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Most of the bands taking part in the big post-punk revival of the mid-2000s come at the music from the indie-guitar side of things, even groups like Franz Ferdinand, whose inspirations were as likely to be wielding synths as Stratocasters. The debut album by London-based duo Grand National takes exactly the opposite tack: although the uniformly sweet pop songs on Kicking the National Habit sound influenced by the likes of the Police (Rupert Lyddon and Lawrence Rudd claim that they first worked together in a Sting tribute band), Men at Work, Duran Duran, and the rest of the more commercial side of the early MTV era, the arrangements are more electronic in nature. Songs like "Peanut Dreams," with its prominent, looping bass riff and hypnotic synth lines, echo the dancefloor experiments of New Order and the rest of the Factory Records stable circa 1985, but the catchy melodies and sweetly intoned choirboy harmonies sound more like Wham! or Go West. Grand National manages to balance what might seem like two very different musical styles, combining them in new and interesting ways on songs like "Talk Amongst Yourselves" and "Drink to Moving On."

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