Album Reviews: Cultivation by Gram RabbitGram Rabbit is under the gun to follow their stellar debut Music to Start a Cult To, a love letter from the character-driven Joshua Tree collective to their spaced-out cult of acid-dance worshippers, the Royal Order of Rabbits. Despite its deliberately insular origins, Cult was widely praised above and below the radar, and walked away with a couple "Best New" nods in the process. Game tight, message received.
But following debuts is always a tricky step, and it's naïve to think that there aren't going to be stumbles along the way. There are but a few on the aptly named Cultivation, mostly on the busy vocal gymnastics of "Charlie's Kids" and "Jesus and I," two songs that show off some ambitious compositional moves but just can't stick the landings. Same goes for "Paper Heart," an orchestral maneuver in the dark that sounds like it came out of Bernard Herrmann's Psycho closet. Maybe because the vamp merger between Janet Leigh and Gram Rabbit frontwoman Jesika von Rabbit makes sense, as one listen to Cultivation can tell you that she's more in front of the show than ever.
But it's when she merges with Gram Rabbit's hypnotic grooves that the band's messianic machine really locks in place. From the stunning "Crossing Guards With Guns" -- a song that Kevin Shields should have made yesterday, My Bloody Valentine reunion or not -- to the narcotic flow of "Waiting in the Kountry," "Hares Don't Have Tea" and "Slopoke," Cultivation finds the Gram Rabbit waving goodbye to their wonderland past and bidding a variegated welcome to their, and our, uncertain future. As Von Rabbit moans on "Follow Your Heart," "make amends, follow trends."
Because coming together is hard to do. - Scott Thill, Morphizm.com
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