Graingerboy // Enemy Forward // Album Review

Enemy Forward is the latest album by singer/songwriter and well-renowned electronic music producer, Graingerboy. This is Graingerboy’s third album and the eagerly anticipated follow-up to 2013’s critically acclaimed mini-LP, Silent Universe. Hailing from Yorkshire, multi-talented Grainger is best known for his performances with balearic house pioneers, A Man Called Adam, as live keyboardist and vocalist, and also experienced chart success with Ministry of Sound’s Electrique Boutique.

graingerboy

Singer/songwriter Simon Grainger aka Graingerboy

A 9 track, predominantly electronic album, Enemy Forward sees Graingerboy collaborating once again with acclaimed record producer and multi-instrumentalist Ian Catt (St Etienne) and was constructed over a two year period both in Yorkshire and in London. This is an intense album, full of highly personal lyrics which are reflective of Grainger’s recent battles with illness. But fear not, this album is neither morose nor self-indulgent. Quite the opposite. It is instead a refreshingly honest and enthusiastic celebration of life (despite its struggles) and of music. Enemy Forward is electro-pop at its most enjoyable and uplifting, coming packed with unrelentingly infectious melodies, genuine emotional depth and sumptuously diverse vocals.

Enemy Forward kicks off enthusiastically with the upbeat and highly danceable ‘Three;’ a catchy track, which steadily increases in pace, swarming the listener’s ears with drums, piano and sizzling guitar; a testament to the multi-instrumental talents of both Graingerboy and Catt. We are then transported to the quite frankly, lovely, ’Saturnine,’ where Grainger’s vocals swirl around a backdrop of uplifting melody – not to mention the catchy chorus which will likely have listeners humming after only the first listen.

‘The Difficult Lies of Us,’ which Grainger co-produced with electronic and techno maestro, Lippy Kid is one of Enemy Forward’s standout tracks and is both atmospheric and rich in emotional depth. The title lyrics are sung repeatedly over multilayered sounds which range from the ambient and reverberating to increasingly heavier electronica as the song progresses. The track almost feels like a build-up and eventual release of tension and is perhaps a metaphorical insight into Grainger’s personal frustrations. As the track progresses, the listener is caressed by gentle and serene vocals reminiscent of choir song, cast aside spacey electronic ambience. This is a clever and intense track; both instrumentally and lyrically and one of the album’s standout numbers.

‘Trainers’, is a gentler and sweetly melodic track and like a lot of the album, the 80’s electro pop influences are evident. Vocals reminiscent of Soft Cell era Marc Almond speak of aches and pains, leaving this feeling a reflective and cathartic piece.

Title track, ‘Enemy Forward’ is a pulsing number with a more lighthearted feel, treating the listener to fun, melodic choruses and an almost nursery rhyme style introduction and end to the track. It makes the listener want to singalong. It makes the listener want to dance.

Emotionally charged ballad, ‘Shadow Former Self’begins slowly, swirling with gentle, yet gradually intensifying sound effects. Grainger repeats the lyrics, ‘what if I crumble? What if I break down?’, amidst a string accompaniment which builds steadily yet powerfully towards the end of the track. This seems to be Grainger at his most vulnerable, speaking of his innermost worries and is perhaps reflective of difficult times; times of diminished self-confidence where one questions whether or not they have the strength to carry on.

‘The Deliberate Inbetween’ is a captivating instrumental track and feels quite different from the rest of the album. It builds with eerie, atmospheric tension and steadily pulsing electronics, leaving the listener in a strangely relaxed and trance-like state. This song contrasts heavily with penultimate album track, the ridiculously catchy, ’Lush Life,’ with its ‘la la la’s’ and fun feel, which will doubtlessly have listeners unwittingly starting to shuffle their feet.

Starting off slowly and steadily building into a strikingly lavish track, ‘Cold Town’, a collaboration with Kimber, feels like a satisfying end to Enemy Forward. Grainger has said himself that this track relates to the concept of escape, release, realisation and ultimately acceptance; no doubt a representation of his own experiences and the doubtlessly cathartic process of making this album.

Enemy Forward is an optimistic, intensely personal and triumphant album; one which Grainger himself aptly describes as a journey. It’s well produced and demonstrates Grainger’s capacity for solid, meaningful and honest song writing whilst also showcasing both his vocal and instrumental talents. Enemy Forward has the power to immerse its listeners in atmospheric escapism, induce emotion and most importantly, have them itching to descend on the dance floor with immediate effect.

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