Modern Skirts

Gramahawk

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    7
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Having a 21st century indie rock band start off an album with a number called "Jane Child," led by keyboard and harmonies, seems somehow right in its own weird way -- why not a song dedicated to and named after (apparently) the late-'80s R&B/pop artist that sounds more like a "post-Beach Boys via Spoon and lots of other things" number, anyway? With that, Gramahawk is off and running, and Modern Skirts do their best to play around with expectations as it goes. "Under Bridges and Overpasses" perhaps gets the beats/vocals/swingalong feeling best, and the whole thing is pleasant rather than aiming for the "I wish I was epic" approach -- which is actually something of a plus after so many efforts like that. Without sounding like demos, there's a way that the band makes space in its arrangements; without sounding incomplete, the lack of bass in a song like "DUI" lets the giddy marching band/circus kick of the music feel a little fragile as well, while the quiet guitar and finger-snap percussion feel of "Glass of Water" is sweetly, creepily beautiful (suiting the somewhat less than perfect world the lyrics describe). "Shipshape," meanwhile, makes for a perfect penultimate song, a bit of quirky-dink synth pop of sorts that actually works rather than making you want to trash your speakers and stomp the band into the ground (and there are acts guilty of causing such reactions out there). If it won't change worlds, it's engaging enough for what it aims to be, and when "Bumper Car" hits a lower-voiced break over a clattering beat with an easygoing grace, the whole thing feels like even more of a treat that could turn even better with time.

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