The first track on one's debut album seems like an unseemly place to put a song about how frustrating and un-rewarding the rock & roll lifestyle is, but when your band name is the Grumps, a certain level of cynicism is to be expected. For all of the petty complaints of "Tough Enough," the Maine-based trio, led by singer-guitarist Ryan Halliburton, seems resigned to their lot; the problem is, that song's mood of grim resignation continues through the rest of the album. A rootsy duo more in the tradition of House of Freaks than the White Stripes, the Grumps bring some blues and country influences to the party, but even on the album's more up-tempo tracks, Halliburton's lyrics and vocals tend to vacillate between the poles of "glum" and "peevish," which gives the album a tiresome quality. It's like being at a bar where it's impossible to concentrate on the unpretentious, enjoyable band up on-stage because the guy on the next stool won't shut up about how much his life sucks.
The Grumps Review
by Stewart Mason