American Grenadine is the debut album from Los Angeles’ the Rose Petals. Out on 23 April, the LP has been over a dozen years in the making. Songwriting duo Peter Donovan (All the Real Girls) and Elijah Ocean had been acquainted since 2008 but only after Donovan made a cross-country tour visiting the graves of US presidents in 2016 did the pair finally realize their dream of working together. With songs about 11 presidents, the album is often reminiscent of the sweet jangle rock of R.E.M. and the Gin Blossoms.
The new single, “Welcome to the Big Top”, is about Warren G. Harding, who occupied the White House from 1921 to 1923, becoming a widely popular figure in his brief tenure. After his death, a series of scandals came to light, which damaged his standing in Americans’ eyes. In addition to extramarital affairs and violating prohibition, there was the Teapot Dome, which ultimately saw his Interior Secretary going to jail after taking bribes.
The Rose Petals create a mini-history lesson for listeners amid the track’s three minutes and change. They deliver a deeply melodic, hook-laden song that migh send listeners scrambling for those dust-covered history books while feeling a little closer to parents who loved the hazy, AM radio-inspired singles such as this back in the 1980s.
Apparently never far from the academic, Donovan says, “Going into the studio, we knew this would be the opening track, a thesis statement for the album both lyrically and musically. We wanted something with high energy, hooky guitar parts, and a big sing-along chorus, so we drew a lot of influence from the early ‘90s: R.E.M., Gin Blossoms, and the Replacements are all in there somewhere.”