Grandchildren: Everlasting

Photo: Sean Flannigan

Animal Collective acolytes make an album that's not much more than the sum of its influences' parts.



Label: Green Owl
US Release Date: 2010-09-28
UK Release Date: 2010-09-28

When a band reaches into the stratosphere of (all right, relative) indie success, it’s bound to create imitators interesting and grating, alike. Animal Collective has been the bloggiest, hype-iest, critics’ darling-est act of the recent decade, and their brand of psych-pop accordingly has increasing caché for acts rising in their wake. If we’re going to talk about Philadelphia’s Grandchildren, let’s just get it out of the way, then. These folks have listened to quite a lot of Panda Bear, Avey Tare, and company, particularly the poppier side of Merriweather Post Pavilion, and the band’s newer material. Bandleader Aleks Martray does his best Panda Bear/Noah Lennox impression throughout Grandchildren’s debut album, Everlasting, and -- depending on who you’re asking -- that could be a blessing or a curse.

The jig is up, right from the start. Everlasting’s opening track, “Cold Warrior”, begins with the clattering, repetitive percussion that marks older Animal Collective favorites like “Grass” and “Purple Bottle”, albeit done here through Merriweather-style drum machines. When what sounds like a steel drum kicks in, you couldn’t be blamed for thinking these guys might be taking the piss out of their progenitors, doing the Panda Bear thing but placing his LSD-soaked tongue firmly in cheek. Then that doo-wop bassline joins the mix. When Martray starts singing, his sunsoaked pipes cop a Brian Wilson-inspired melody, and the listener gets a sinking feeling that Grandchildren might not be up for subverting a formula, after all.

“Winterlude” breaks free from its predecessor’s Bear-baiting with some solid live percussion and a nice guitar hook. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go much of anywhere from there, becoming just the thing its title puns on. “Heartbreaker” meanders in a similar manner, starting off promisingly with some distorted vocals and a strong melody from Martray before losing itself amidst self-consciously strange chord progressions and a midsection that slows its momentum to a near standstill.

“Saturn Returns” is the album’s early standout, its quickfire acoustic guitar work propelling it forward into compelling territory, underscored by busy drumming and some solid bass and keyboard riffing. The song’s lightness proves to be its strength. It is, in short, fun. “Toss and Turn” sucks that energy away, though, as it takes too long to build to a stale climax while featuring a bright keyboard melody that's not enough to keep its weight from bottoming out.

The album’s b-side finds its highlight in “OK I’m Waiting”, which uses a gently picked acoustic guitar and some wah-laced keyboards to create a hazy, happily stoned vibe. When the beat starts, it marks Everlasting’s only moment of pop songcraft unencumbered by unnecessary instrumental crowding. It’s a fine bit of songwriting, the success of its simplicity made even more apparent by the album’s sequencing -- “Little Big Ones” follows up with aimless jamming. The same holds true for “Anthill”, which confuses call-and-response drumming for intriguing dynamism. By the time closer “When You’re Not Looking” finishes its run, one’s left wondering where the last 40 minutes went; it wasn’t a bad experience, but it wasn’t much of any experience at all, akin to the feeling one might have after watching Bravo for an hour or so.

None of this is to say that Martray and his crew aren’t talented or that their enthusiasm for the music they’re creating doesn’t shine through. Grandchildren’s live show is said to be something to behold, with members switching instruments and leading the crowd into sunny, sweaty bliss. That seems believable, even if the record itself doesn’t generate anywhere near that level of excitement. Here’s to hoping the band shrugs off their influences a bit more readily on the next album.





On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.


Alps 2 and Harry No Release Eclectic Single "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" (premiere)

Alps 2 and Harry NoSong's "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" is a dizzying mix of mangled 2-step rhythms and woozy tranquil electronics.


Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings Team for Wonderfully Sparse "Where Or When" (premiere)

Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings' "Where Or When" is a wonderfully understated performance that walks the line between pop and jazz.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.


Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.


That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.


Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.


Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.


Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.


'Thor: Ragnorak' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.


Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.


New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.


Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.


Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.


New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.


'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.


Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.


Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.


M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.


Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Collapse Expand Reviews
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.