Public Practice – Gentle Grip (3 stars)

Public Practice – Gentle Grip

NYC band's debut album is a crafty merging of jangly punk and shadowy indie pop

Steeped in New York traditions of art punk and disco-inspired guitar rock, Public Practice's first album is a broad umbrella of angular indie and introspective but catchy lyrics.

'Moon' opens with an atmospheric dose of sleazy bass-driven grunge reminiscent of Death From Above 1979. The album then jumps and slips between jangly punk and shadowy indie pop. On 'Disposable', 'The lines they get all blurred' rings out darkly before a sharp tonal shift into sincere melancholy with 'Tell me what you wanna hear, I don't think you even know.'

Lead single 'Compromised' flies between quirky, highly strung verses and emphatic choruses. Vocalists Samantha York and Drew Citron proclaim that 'You don't wanna live a lie, but it's easy.' Material desires clash with moral self-worth in a daily life where such struggles are one part of a complex whole. They lead these matters with lyrical directness while the upbeat instrumentals keep the air fresh.

The jarringly short 'How I Like It' shows wider potential as eccentric rhythms are dropped for a drenched wall of sound, led by spoken word storytelling and backed by vocal harmonies.

Towards the end the album moves into moodier territory. By now there's a hanging feeling that they can't quite yet carry the emotional weight required for their obvious technical talents. Gentle Grip never claims to be pioneering. Its influences are on its sleeve, from the funk of alt-titans Liquid Liquid and ESG, to the upbeat post-punk of Talking Heads and Orange Juice. This is justified by a genuine energy and love for what they're doing.

Conventional song structures are smartly turned on their head, and crafty hairpin turns are around every corner. They're tight, talented and have a lot of good ideas, lyrical and musical. Their music just needs time to grow.

Out Fri 15 May on Wharf Cat Records.

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