Six to Midnight
13 Track, LP (2009, Chk Chk Boom Records/Universal)
Superman had his Fortress of Solitude; Leonard Cohen had his Tower of Song; Phil Jamieson has his Monumental Self-Pity. Painstakingly carved from more than a decade's worth of the blurry stuff made when late nights become early mornings, it is Jamieson's life work.
While some people collect beer coasters or make ships in bottles, Jamieson complains. And as long as he keeps being himself, he will never run out of material. because every last one of his woes – drinking, drugging, fighting - is self-inflicted. The sheer silliness of the whole exercise makes it difficult to stomach, but that doesn't stop Jamieson (and band) serving up another 13 slices of monotonal pain, each track a full meal of meat, potatoes and fine whine.
It's an all-repeat workday. Cop this lyrical range, from first track to last - and if you find it tiresome to read, imagine listening to 40-odd minutes of this nonsense:
"She's laughing while he's crying" (‘Dogs’). "All that I know is that I'm afraid" (‘Run’). "Where do all the empty people go with their dreams" (‘Comeback’). "You only want to see me go away" (‘Takes One’). "There's a pain in my chest and it hurts like hell" (‘Strange Premonitions’). "All of your memories have faded" (‘Right Now’). "I can see the storm approaching" (‘Give You More’). "Why'd you have to cheat on me? Now I feel like you've stolen everything from me" (‘Lockdown’). "You made the past a lie now the future has come undone" (‘Tonight’). "I stand defeated" (‘Passenger’). "You were walking by yourself down a dark lonely street" (‘Innocence’). "Liar liar you’re a cheat" (‘Surrender’). "Like a wound I will just let it bleed" (‘Summer’).
While there are as many emotional notes hit as there are keys on a piano with all its strings busted, musically Grinspoon are mixing it up a little. The band dutifully, if not entirely competently, runs through a variety of hackneyed musical tropes ranging from their familiar sub-Helmet riffage through soft-loud rock to looped-up balladry.
It's all going nowhere fast. The riff that opens ninth track ‘Tonight’ was hardly new when Metallica gave it an airing on their single ‘One’. Right now, it has all the minty freshness of a day-old fart. On ‘Passenger’, Jamieson tries his hand at shouty versus sung, crabcore style, but the band lack the epic synth breakdowns to carry it off with conviction. And closing track ‘Summer’ exposes Jamieson's singing voice against looped strings - possibly not a wise move.
Grinspoon's fans (who exist, if not in great enough number to propel this record to gold sales at the time of writing) seem to be hailing this as a return to form for the 'Spoon, as if that was a concept with any possible meaning. For the rest of us, the temptation is to make fun of Phil's pain. Difficult as it is, the temptation should be resisted. It just encourages him.
by Marcus Lester