The Grammar EP winds up being a tasty morsel, but not much more than that.
"Don't wanna pay my dues, just want it figured out," goes the first lyric to Grammar's single "New World". Say what you want about 24-year-old Barrie Lindsay, but she's speaking to the experience of millennials, wanting the perfect job without having to put the muscle grease behind it. That might be why Lindsay's project comes across as being merely copacetic. The Grammar EP is full of hazy pop that doesn't really light a fire. Sure, it's enjoyable, but that's about it. There's no sense of reinvention, or pushing things forward, which might be strange considering Lindsay's pedigree. According to the press notes, Lindsay grew up outside of Boston and studied music theory and composition at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Grammar was part of her senior year thesis, taking the form of a 15-piece orchestral chamber pop group. Now, that might have been interesting to listen to.
However, Grammar in this form is merely a solo venture with the backing of four childhood friends. And, as it stands, the group is serviceable but hardly groundbreaking. Lindsay has a girlish voice that takes some time to warm up to. There's an R&B feel to some of these five songs, and while Grammar doesn't sound remotely like them, visions of Steely Dan may come to mind. So despite the reach of this guitars and keyboards group, which is what Beach House would sound like if their music didn't move at quite as glacial a pace, what you get here is fairly standard. It's nice, for sure, but an air of familiarity hovers over this output. It's a shame because, given its creator's background, one had the bar set fairly high as far as expectations go. That could be unfair, but the sound of Grammar could be the sound of just about any indie band of recent years, which is odd considering the university music background. Thus, the Grammar EP winds up being a tasty morsel, but not much more than that. Grammar certainly wants to have the world, but, alas, forgets one key ingredient: you have to work hard to get to a position of authority and it doesn't come naturally necessarily. Bring back the chamber pop, perhaps. With that added scope and dimension, Grammar might be a band that brings proper syntax into the equation.