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Hayden Thorpe - Diviner Music Album Reviews

The former Wild Beasts singer embarks on a new direction on his soul-searching solo debut, stripping back his songwriting to a reverent hush.
The British singer-songwriter Hayden Thorpe released “Diviner” in late February 2019, just a year after the final performance of his band Wild Beasts. From its stark opening chords and breathy first line—“I’m a keeper of secrets, pray do tell”—the song sounded markedly personal. With little more than his stately countertenor and humble piano, Thorpe harnessed the energy of quiet solitude and proceeded to pitch that emotion skyward until the music felt bathed in a dim light. After more than a decade with Wild Beasts, “Diviner” pointed to a different direction for Thorpe.

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Greys - Age Hasn’t Spoiled You Music Album Reviews

On their first new album in three years, the Toronto punk band tear down everything they’ve ever known about making music and rebuild themselves for the better.

In 2011, then nascent Toronto punk band Greys released a vinyl 10" called Ultra Sorta. It was an energetic five-song suite that sounded like the embodiment of a mosh pit; limbs flying from every direction, kicking up dust, and leaving no room to breathe. While it was exhilarating, it didn’t stand apart from the work of other punk revivalists at the time. But over the course of eight years, Greys have steadily refined their approach to rock music, allowing space and thoughtful arrangements to shout louder than frontman Shehzaad Jiwani. In 2016, the quartet released a pair of records—Outer Heaven and Warm Shadow—that played with pace and allowed for new influences to sneak in, namely shoegaze, dream pop, and slow-simmering psych. On their new album Age Hasn’t Spoiled You, however, Greys tear down everything they’ve ever known about making music, and piece it back together from the ragged-but-arresting wreckage. This dark incarnation of the band is one that their 2011 selves wouldn’t recognize—and they wear the change well.


Age Hasn’t Spoiled You was bound to be a grand departure from Greys’ earlier output; it was recorded in the wake of the 2016 election, and coincided with the decline of the group’s creative community. In Greys’ native Toronto, beloved DIY venues shuttered, and fellow bands were calling it quits. “I think this record is largely informed by that sense of instability, musically as well as lyrically,” Jiwani recently told The Fader. “You can’t go back, but how do you know which way to push forward?” Despite the onslaught of discouraging events, Greys managed to push in the right direction, relinquishing sloppy punk velocity for a collection of focused, slow-simmering tracks that are as versatile as they are detailed.

The record is full of surprises, something we don’t often get to say about rock music in 2019. The single “Kill Appeal” kicks off as a driving post-punk cut propelled by blast beats before it crashes and erupts into free jazz. “These Things Happen” and “Western Guilt” recall the spaced-out psych pop of early Blur. Maybe the most striking, however, are opening tracks “A-440” and “Arc Light.” The former serves more as a test pattern than a proper tune, intertwining static thrums and whispers and a shrill buzzing. “Arc Light” cuts through “A-440”’s disintegration with squeals that could be either be from an effects pedal or whales in distress, instantly recalling My Bloody Valentine’s “Touched.” Tiny details are embedded throughout the record, enriching reminders of process and precision.

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Jiwani has expressed his fatigue with contemporary guitar music, and he took reactionary measures to that exhaustion while making Age Hasn’t Spoiled You. The record’s success owes a lot to that pushback; Greys flipped their well-worn process inside-out, repurposing instruments until they coalesced into a dizzying whole. Here, the guitar-bass-drums template of their previous music is either shrouded in discord or abandoned entirely. But Greys also took their time. Warm Shadow was laid down in three days; Age Hasn’t Spoiled You, on the other hand, was made over the course of a year, marking the band’s first album since 2016. The space they’ve allowed themselves as artists has translated beautifully into Greys’ new work. In an accelerating industry that demands high turnover, Age Hasn’t Spoiled You is a testament to patience and method.


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