1999 – Polydor
Australian rock band Spiderbait’s fourth studio album is possibly one of the most uplifting records I’ve ever heard. It’s just so gosh-darn fun and cheerful with its catchy melodies and rocking pop numbers.
The music itself is hard edged, but dancey – partly electro-pop, but with a sold grunge basis. For me this blend of styles makes for a very successful album, sprinkling the happiness of bubblegum atop disaffection with the mope removed. It’s just something that makes you want to dance and sing along, but doesn’t make you feel bad for wanting to do that.
The juxtaposition between the sweetly sugared vocals of bassist Janet English and the more rocked up singing from drummer Kram is a nice touch adds to the album’s dual appeal, as does the grungy guitar rhythms overlayed on synth melodies and drum machine loops.
Dinnertime is definitely one of the major stand-out tracks for me. It’s just impossible to be unhappy while listening to this song. This is not to say, however, that the record is all bumblebees and roses, By The Time I Get To Howlong and Bessy’s Last Journey (among some others) bring some balance to the album being slower and more textured.
The record, on the whole, is not particularly deep or challenging, but that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes I just want to put on a CD and bop along, and for me Grand Slam is an ideal candidate for this kind of aural escapism. And, although seventeen tracks might seem excessive for one record, nothing drags on too long and it never fails to maintain the listener’s interest.
One criticism I do have, however, is that, while the album is well put together , it doesn’t provide many obvious focal points to ground the listener in the experience of the record. It kind of plays more like a catalogue of great recordings rather than a fully realized piece of art. However, this is much more of a personal feeling than a real musical criticism, and it is also a relatively small gripe.
On the whole I would say that Grand Slam is a great album and it would be a welcome inclusion in any record collection. In particular the collections of those who are, like me, academically interested in popular music and as such spend altogether too much time grappling with the darkness and difficulty of ‘high art’ records. Sometimes it’s nice to just chill out and have some fun.
The copy of Grand Slam that I have comes with a bonus disc of remixes. On the whole these are okay, but not particularly interesting. The Hardboiled remix of Dinnertime and the Slow Ectoplasm remix of Glockenpop, however, really worth a listen.
Also, while this remix disc isn’t very good or exciting, it comes with the album for free so I can’t really complain.
One of the many brilliantly poppy tracks from ‘Grand Slam’