Review: The Story So Far Shows the Bittersweet Arc of Grand Archives' Albums

grand archives.jpg
photo by Hilary Harris
Artist: Grand Archives

Album: The Story So Far

Label: Sub Pop

Rating (Skip, Stream, or Buy): Buy (it's free, so you can't buy it, but you get the idea.)

Download: The whole thing, on Grand Archives' website

If you've never heard Grand Archives--or haven't picked up an album since the band's career-launching self-released CD in 2007--this three-song EP is the perfect introduction to the swirling, breezy pop that Mat Brooke and company effortlessly create. One song (excluding the bonus downloadable video for "Oslo Novelist,") is pulled from each album the band has released, and each showcases Grand Archives' best musical qualities. "Minature Birds" is simple and upbeat; "Southern Glass Home" is sweeping yet sullen, featuring crescendos and decrescendos; "Dig That Crazy Grave" is a little country, a little folk-y, and builds emotional tension from start to finish.

The ironic (and unfortunate) problem with The Story So Far is how complete it feels. These three tracks, along with "Torn Blue Foam Couch" and "Sleepdriving," are among the best Grand Archives have ever recorded. The band has only released two dozen songs, and about half of them--those on last year's Keep in Mind Frankenstein, in particular--are lackluster by comparison. While this brief EP serves as a reminder of the Grand Archives' captivating glow, it's also a bittersweet reminder that the glow can easily fade. Let's hope Grand Archives' next album can find that luster again.

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