Numbers is the debut EP released by Montreal indie-rock outfit Grand Splendid. The album opener, aptly titled Energy, sets the tone for a melodic, ethereal energy that is maintained throughout the entirety of the band’s 5-song EP. The track draws instant nostalgia with its notable stylistic resemblance to some early works by The Strokes, as well as frontman Julian Buchbinder’s vocals being as close as one can get to Death Cab’s Ben Gibbard without being labeled a copycat. After only having listened to the first half of “Energy,” I was already drawn in and ready to take the EP by storm. Everything about the song makes you feel like you’re dancing on a cloud. Guitarist Maxime Arseneau has such a light touch on the instrument, and the cosmic love that the song is about seems to exude it’s energy onto anyone who gives it even so much as a fleeting listen; in keeping with what the rest of the EP has in store.
The feel of the album as a whole is in that same vein of delicate, breezy euphoria. Grand Splendid manages to deliver a jaunty and carefree listening experience without it being disposable or insubstantial. Not only is their music so impossibly catchy and upbeat, but their ability to compose strong, unique pieces shows promise that they won’t be a one-trick-pony in any future musical endeavors. This is clear in a song such as “Last,” in which they take a simple skeleton of a song with some light, twinkly picking in the background and slowly progress until it blossoms into a full blown anthemic riff that somehow still has that Grand Splendid soft touch to it.
Although the subject matter of the songs isn’t anything mind-blowing, the way in which the lyrics are delivered is what really allows them to stand out. The honesty in the vocals is something that I found to be really refreshing in the midst of a musical epidemic of bands taking themselves way too seriously. At no point during this EP did I once notice any kind of audible front or bravado; a quality that made each song seem more human and easy to relate to on a personal level. This, along with each note from the guitar oozing with life, and the integration of every layer (guitar, bass, drums, vocals with a secondary layer of keyboards) flowing perfectly into one another, makes for a well-rounded band and a sound that is anything but one dimensional.
As a whole, this album is a huge success artistically, especially considering that it’s only the band’s debut EP. With some fine-tuning and time to grow as musicians, I feel as though Grand Splendid will only have good things to come. So keep your ears peeled for that signature positive energy that will leave you smiling for days and get used to it, because with talent like this, Grand Splendid won’t be going away any time soon.
Written by Karyna Evangelista