Written for DIY

Some bands don’t make a huge splash on first listen; more of a ripple. Some bands don’t so much announce themselves as sit in the corner of the room and kept quiet, slowly making their presence known. Sometimes these bands can also be quite boring. That’s our dilemma with G R E A T W A V E S.

“The New Boring” is a catch-all phrase coined by a cynical journalist to encapsulate things as disparate as James Blake and Downton Abbey. It cites repetition, simplicity and soft-handedness as negative qualities for music (and other things) to have. These are things G R E A T W A V E S’ first single has in spades. So, enjoyment of said single could be down to how much you buy into this “New Boring” thing.

We’re sitting on the fence a little ourselves, admittedly. Whilst the glacial electronic thing works for someone like post-dubstep wunderkind Blake, there’s a knack to it. Both ‘The Shore’ and B-side ‘Into The Blue’ are built from the same set of blocks: a synth drone, a simple drum beat, and then the dulcet, somewhat incongruous Mancunian singing (it’s a bit like Ian Brown enigmatically mumbling atop a demo from the last Foals record).

It’s not crushingly dull, and neither is it abrasive. It’s just inoffensive. It’s not all bad, because of the musical touchstones listening to the songs conjures, and because it’s never a chore to listen to. But in playing with simplicity, the songs are noticeably missing something. It’s Alt-J without the upbeat. The xx without the intimacy. It stumbles too often from that line that separates the transcendent ambient from the tediously simplistic.

Minimalism is all about “minimizing distractions from what’s truly valuable or essential” (or so Wikipedia tells us). G R E A T W A V E S have stripped things back and not left us with much of anything.



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