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Grand National - Kicking the National Habit


Review: Jack Foley

THE Eighties revival shows no sign of letting up at the moment, although Grand National have, at least, decided to revisit another part of that decade.

While most other rock bands of the moment content themselves with retreading the post-punk path to success, this north London based duo veer into New Order territory, laced with a bit of The Police.

Grand National are comprised of the multi-instrumental duo of Rupert Lyddon and Lawrence 'La' Rudd, who came from performing cover versions of The Police and Queen to the cusp of fame, thanks to a chance meeting with Primal Scream, while they were recording Xtrmntr.

The result of that encounter is Kicking The National Habit, an album that possesses all the cheesy hallmarks of a really bad 80s record, but which remains strangely pleasurable in spite of yourself. A guilty pleasure, if you will.

The Police/New Order comparisons are never more evident than during third track, Playing In The Distance, which Uncut magazine referred to as 'Roxanne meets 'Born Slippy' with Alan Rankine, of Associates, on keyboards'.

The backing vocals are so Sting-based, that you almost cannot believe the former Police frontman isn't singing on the record himself.

And in spite of how that may sound, it actually works really well.

Likewise, opening track, Drink To Move On, with its ringing guitars and laidback vocal style, that really conjures memories of the New Order of Regret.

The album only really begins to test the patience, during hopelessly upbeat moments such as Boner, which is described as a blast of neo-ska. It simply grates.

But the cool vibe of Peanut Dreams, with its cracking bass and weeping guitar, brings things back on track nicely, veering slightly into territory previously owned by The Beloved.

The second half of the album tends to remain upbeat, with a few driving beats to spice things up a little - but tracks like Coming Round and the synth-charged North Sound Off don't work as well as they might, and expose the album as the slight bit of throwaway fun that it ultimately is.

 

Track listing:
1. Drink To Moving On
2. Talk Amongst Yourselves
3. Playing In The Distance
4. Boner
5. Peanut Dreams
6. Cherry Tree
7. Coming Round
8. Daylight Goes
9. North Sound Off
10. Litter Bin

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