The Grundy brothers, along with their companions in Heaven For Real, have been fine-tuning their distinct approach to songwriting since the band’s emergence in 2012. Now this year, for their Mint debut, they have prepared Kill Your Memory, a collection of songs brimming with their idiosyncratic brand of maximalist pop music. Equally enamoured with creating undeniable melodic hooks as they are with unconventional sounds, the album marks Heaven For Real’s emergence as fully formed left-field masters with the unique ability to turn directions on a dime.
Fraternal twin songwriters Mark and Scott Grundy (Quaker Parents/Monomyth), in tandem with rhythmic partners Cheryl Hann (Old and Weird/Picnicface) and Nathan Doucet (ex-Crosss), have spent the last two years developing their highly personal musical language. The end result of overnight sessions at their local studio (Echo Chamber Audio) and much tinkering out of their Halifax homes, Kill Your Memory marries poetic lyrical narratives with a special blend of experimental rock n’ roll. It’s an album that incorporates the adventurousness of jazz and nervous post-punk energy with ornamental touches of tape collage and electronics. Brian Eno would be proud.
The album begins with “Subliminal”, a perfect summation of the band’s creative process that asks: “Where’s the other set of headphones? / Am I running up the end zone?”. As the music trapezes effortlessly between harmony and dissonance, it mixes the inventive spirit of Os Mutantes and the child-like playfulness of the finer cuts of the Elephant Six Collective‘s catalogue. Throughout the song the brothers spur each other on to greater heights as each tries to best the other’s latest trick, posing pointed questions that are understood to be part of the endless march towards self-perfection.
Meanwhile, the title track “Kill Your Memory” serves as the album’s skeleton key. A nervy and lumbering guitar strides alongside the rapid fire details of a social engagement with characters from a passed chapter in the narrator’s life until the chorus demands the listener to “Kill your memory / Or arm your memory”. This dedication to the concept of utility allows the listener to believe that Heaven For Real may actually be able to make good on their namesake.
Elsewhere lyrics explore physical and mental intertwining with an almost zen-like embrace of change. “Oasis Melting (Visitor on Vacation)”, a track reminiscent of Wire’s 154, turns melting frost on a lamp into a chance to illuminate life’s animating principles. Rollicking beats lead the listener down a path populated with wayward travellers in search of momentary homes (Known Steps In Directions Unknown, Hotel #55), ghosts of former selves and lovers brushing up against their current counterparts (Smooth Ops, Hard Done By), meditations on the intention of one’s actions (No One Knows Her, I’m Sick) and ultimately acceptance of those actions (Misfire). The ring modulators employed throughout the record emulate these sudden shifts in perspective while also tipping their hat to clear spiritual forebearers Devo. Elsewhere shades of Sparks‘ progressive lean, Daniel Johnston‘s earnestness, and Built to Spill‘s emotional gravitas mix with the unflinching optimism of early Talking Heads. Excited but not hurried, Kill Your Memory is sure-footed music written to a quickened heartbeat in the throes of inspiration.