Timing is everything in pop. Come too soon and, at best you look like an eccentric, a maniac or a freak, and, at worst no one pays any attention at all- your basically Michael J Fox playing Johnny B Goode at the end of Back to the Future, or the Indian guy who accidentally invented acid house in 1982. Come too late and you’re irrelevant and embarrassing (see: Muse making dubstep). Gramme may have good records but they’ve got bloody awful timing.
Coming together in the late 90s, Gramme were feted as being one of the first bands to channel the angular funk of early 80s Factory acts such as A Certain Ratio, ESG and Gang of Four, preceding cowbell laden projects by the likes of LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, Liars and more by some few years. They were way ahead of their contemporaries, and whilst the single Like U has become a recognised classic in DJ spotter circles, they got bugger all recognition from the wider world, and ended up disappearing from view. Now they’re back, finally having got together a debut album, and pushing the same New York via Manchester punk funk they unearthed in the late 90s. Anyone with a passing familiarity with the work of ESG or Tom Tom Club knows what to expect- sinuous dubby basslines, scratchy guitars, disco beats played by live drums and atonal female vocals alternating between chanting and singing. When Gramme deliver they do it so well- the strutting funk of Too High snaps harder than a New York winter, and album closer It’s Magic feels like a Shep Pettibone classic, catchy as hell hooks and sweet nagging synths all perfectly in place. At other moments the band serve up echoing spaces of industrial dance, bass pulsing through clatters and clangs that defy you not to dance.
Unfortunately it’s all coming a little too late. The credible end of indie dance music has moved on to obsess over the 90s, and these missives, enjoyable as they are, are once more out of step with the world around them. Had they come out on DFA records some years ago, Gramme could have been huge, as it is they’re probably going to forever remain a niche concern. Party like it’s 2004. 7/10