Bless John Grant for bending the idea of the ‘singer songwriter’ so far that the term now seems totally obsolete. Grey Tickles, Black Pressure is bookended with with biblical quotations on love, the ones from Corinthians you always hear at weddings, but that’s about as much tradition as you’re likely to find on the former Czars singer’s third solo record.
It’s a jauntier listen than the preceding Pale Green Ghosts, which saw Grant tackling with his HIV positive diagnosis, and it’s a delight to hear him having such a giggle. He even mocks his own previous misery on the title track, detailing how “there are children who have cancer, and so all bets are off – I can’t compete with that”.
It’s a John Grant record, so of course eyebrows will be raised at a few turns of phrase. ‘Slug Snacks’ is full of them, with “you know it takes an ass like yours for me to develop such a high tolerance for inappropriate behaviour” probably the biggest corker. The song, and album as a whole, continues down a synth-laden, electronic path that carries him further away from the balladeering of his past. ‘Guess How I Know’ is probably the first of his tunes that could be given a passable Marilyn Manson cover.
If it sounds all over the place… it is. There aren’t many instantly lovable songs here, but Grant’s verve and wit just about make up for their absence.