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Formed in the mid ‘90s and named after a professor advocating the medical use of marijuana, Grinspoon’s hiatus in 2008 was short-lived as they returned soon after in 2009 with their sixth album, ‘Six to Midnight’, which has recently found its European release through DR2 Records. The sound of the album is rocky and modern, very commercial with melodies aplenty, poppy choruses and heavier elements woven in. Frontman Phil Jamieson’s voice is not a rock voice but has a smooth tone that works well with the bombast. The album has a distinct ‘90s sound that’s clear from the opening track, ‘Dogs’, for instance, the riff having an early-STP feel to it. First single ‘Comeback’ is one of the weakest here and a surprise choice for a single. The vocal line on the verse is feeble and the chorus, though catchy, is very annoying. From here on in, the songs all stick very close to the same structure (intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, broken-down middle bit, chorus, verse, repeat chorus to fade) with a few variations here and there, but by track five, it doesn’t matter because they all begin to blur into one. There’s a hint of grunge underpinning most of the songs – even to the naff ballad ‘Summer’, with its Smashing Pumpkins-flavoured orchestration, that closes the album – and plenty dirty and driving guitar riffs to make this a better than average album but this is no more than straight ahead rock that would’ve sounded good, not great, in the ‘90s, and sounds good, not great, now. There are plenty of good tunes here though such as the catchy and uplifting ‘Takes One’, the STP-influenced ‘Right Now’ and the dirty-riffed ‘Surrender’. Apparently, Grinspoon’s 1998 debut, ‘Guide to Better Living’, achieved considerable commercial success and as much critical acclaim yet became the band’s albatross as subsequent albums, though selling very well indeed, never quite matched its success with neither fans nor critics. ‘Six to Midnight’, with its very commercial hard rock ‘90s sound, is a clear attempt to recapture past glories and even though Grinspoon would like to think that they are a different band to that of their heyday, this simply doesn’t cut it as much as they may have hoped.
DR2 Records
Review by Jason Guest
4th July 2011
1) Dogs
2) Run
3) Comeback
4) Takes One
5) Premonitions
6) Right Now
7) Give You More
8) Lockdown
9) Tonight; 10) Passenger
11) Innocence; 12) Surrender
13) Summer; 14) Champion (Rick Will Mix)
"...a better than average album but this is no more than straight ahead rock that would’ve sounded good, not great, in the ‘90s, and sounds good, not great, now."