It is hard to believe that it is five years and a few months ago that we were tantalised and hooked on the melodic dexterity and acoustic mischief of The Radioactive Grandma and their debut album, the fact that numerous of its tracks from it are still a regular part of our intimate listening for pleasure moments. Ready to re-energise that playlist, the outfit has returned with a new offering to grip ears and seduce the imagination.
It is not quite as simple as that though. Firstly the Co Cavan and Maynooth hailing band is now called Ape Rising and where once a trio it is now a tenaciously inventive quintet. Band originals in vocalist/guitarists Johno Leader and Peter Donohue are still there leading the way in melodic enterprise and lyrical suggestiveness but now joined by keyboardist Peter Denton, drummer Fran Mc Donnell, and bassist Jimmy Deface who is/was also one half of the excellent duo Juggling Wolves alongside Leader. Whether it was the need to recruit new members or the evolution of their sound which inspired the new moniker, or as hinted at elsewhere a dubious porn site taking their previous domain name, it certainly comes with a fresh wind of invention and a broader array of sound with the outfit; a blend simply lighting up their new self-titled treat.
Their acoustic prowess is still in evidence but embraced by a new indie/progressive/math rock venture which truly refuses to sit in any camp but embraces plenty of styles and flavours within its retro kissed synth inspired adventure. To say it is magnetic from start to finish does not do the increasing irresistibility of the album justice. It swiftly gets under the skin and engagingly niggles away whether with or without its company. It all starts with In Their Masses, the song rising from an initial ignition sparking sample in a melodic haze before guitars begin weaving their suggestive enterprise around the vocal prowess of Leader and the assisting tones of Donohue and band. Perpetually blossoming second by second as melodies and harmonies cluster, a seventies synth essence brings its flowing colours to the creative canvas. It is just one of the emerging traits though, a raw alternative growl having its moment in voice and sound too before things settle back into the track’s gentler yet still fiery seduction.
The song is pure temptation sparking things off and setting the heart of the release in fine style before being eclipsed by the following Oddysee. Straight away a great nagging hook is at work, its touch part celestial part espionage like resembling one of the teasing attributes of those classic sixties/seventies spy/sci-fi TV show themes. From its intrigue, a strolling body of infectious energy and endeavour surges, spun by guitar and keys as rhythms dance boisterously around zeal fuelled vocals. There is theatre in its nature, adventure in its heart; a combination with individually cast bold invention unites to simply hit the spot.
There is a bit of early Jimmy Eat World to next up King Of The Universe, Denton’ s keys bubbling with that ever present seventies revelry alongside the irresistible acoustic craft of the guitars. Incessantly catchy to feet, neck muscles, and appetite, the song whisks the imagination away into its own climate of warm temptation; a plateau frequented just as captivatingly by Divide where imagining Young Knives and KingBathmat fused together gives an idea of the enticing progressive hug of the song and its graceful voice.
Keeping Me Away is a slice of indie rock ‘n’ pop which has the body bouncing with just its first eager strum, and swinging by the time keys swarm poetically across high-spirited rhythms. Of all the songs within the album, this has the boldest Radioactive Grandma feel to its swinging body but it comes with the organic infectiousness which made eighties outfit The Woodentops so glorious, and now adds the same addictive quality to Ape Rising.
The calmer reflection of Medicine Part 1 shares a poetic suasion which reminds of songwriter/composer/musician John Bassett while Medicine Part 2 loads all of its predecessor’s assets into its own rousing sortie on ears and imagination, at times bewitching like a hybrid of Yes and Voyager. Numerous tracks make a play for best honours but this always stands at the front of the pack with every listen.
It is probably fair to say that To Daze The Day I borrows something of Juggling Wolves for its emotive canter but a stroll which bubbles with an energy which borders on raucous as keen invention simply lights up ears and the passions with an unrelenting imagination.
New single, The Model Prime skips in next; its melodic dance and harmonic sways animatingly lighting the song’s retro tone and mesh of glowing flavours. Like a siren it calls on ears and the spirit, unafraid to add unpredictability to its warmly cast temptations before the shuffle of the album gets even more kinetic within Joysticks & Stones, a song which at times has a touch of eighties band Furniture to it and in other moments the more hot-headed devilry of someone like Bloc Party.
The album finishes on the lustfully simmering progressive pop of Flicker and finally the pop rock beauty of 6 Eight 7. Both tracks simply match the pleasures before them with their own ear stroking, spirit stirring enterprises with the stunning first again having a great KingBathmat vibe which can never do any harm while its successor offers an acoustically nurtured samba which excites the senses with its unrelenting and greedily accepted infection.
The Radioactive Grandma will never be forgotten here or lose their spot on for pleasure only listening but now they are joined with equal zeal by Ape Rising, a proposition sure to drive you to highly pleasurable distraction.
The Ape Rising album is out now @ https://aperising.bandcamp.com/ and through other stores.
Pete RingMaster 02/10/2017
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