On his fifth album Grasque, Jannis Noya Makrigiannis, aka Choir of Young Believers, finds the unhappy midpoint between a varnished Hot Chip and Scandinavian Euro-pop. Makrigiannis claims to draw influence from disparate sources, but it’s difficult to differentiate between each song. Most of Grasque is colourless mist composed of basic keyboard sounds from a bedroom DJ.
From start to finish Grasque is an exercise in endurance. Esoteric references mean it should forge new sonic territory, but Makrigiannis conjures pale approximations of Sigur Ros, eighties synth-pop and Frank Ocean and mashes them together, but produces none of the fun that should entail. ‘Jeg Ser Dig’ will have retailers frothing, convinced they’ve found something to cool tempers in queues. ‘Serious Lover’ verges on bland emoting for people who still think Human League are cutting edge. Be they male or female, vocals are disingenuously earnest, the sort smeared on Eurovision Song Contest entries. ‘Cloud Nine’ is a scenic portrait trashed by trite words and listless singing. An album bragging Danish and Greek lyrics could and should be engaging, but cultural distinctions are whitewashed by brutally polished production.
Grasque will slither into cafes with board games rather than carve a unique identity in the creative margins. Warmth and attitude lie slain at the altar of a soulless contemporary sound. Don’t let this muzak fool you into thinking it’s the future.
Live: Oslo – April 8th