No Constellation marks an energetic, and often impressive, return for the vital Flying Nun label.
Grayson Gilmour gets his small spot in history with No Constellation, no matter what. His is the first record released by legendary New Zealand label Flying Nun after it was re-purchased by original owner and founder Robert Shepherd. Luckily, though, his record offers more than just the answer to a trivia question. Gilmour recorded the bulk of No Constellation by himself, and his intricate, heavily orchestrated pop songs show an impressive knack for detail and a keen eye for composition. The album can wander from the taut energy of pop gems like "Loose Change" to the darker drifting of "Fire Downstairs". In its carefully crafted layers and almost childlike sweetness, it's hard not to see some Sufjan Stevens in what Gilmour's doing here. He is at his best, though, when he taps into the jangle-pop fury of past Flying Nun bands (the Clean, the 3Ds, Chris Knox, etc.) on standouts like the charging "Pearly Whites" and the deep shuffle of "Gem Apple John". His ability in those moments to mesh his orchestration with garage rock immediacy is unique and impressive, and renders some of the more drifting pieces of the record toothless in comparison. Overall, though, Gilmour shows off some impressive skills on No Constellation, and marks an energetic, and often impressive, return for a vital record label.