vrijdag 9 oktober 2020

Mediocre, Brutal. Global Charming

With two already very promising singles out, newcomers Global Charming's debut album has been something to look out for. Having listened to Mediocre, Brutal now for a few weeks, I can only wonder how ironic the album's title sounds, as the music on offer is anything but mediocre. The band is in a top form but will undoubtedly drive away many people with too sensitive ears. For them the brutal part certainly applies. And not because thrash metal or emo-punk-screaming is going on. Far from even.

Starting to think about what I hear, there is a contradiction that strikes me in Global Charming. On the one hand there is the aloofness bordering on boredom in the way several of the songs are sung. Almost as if the singer(s) have no connection to the lyrics at all, perhaps even don't understand the implications of what they're singing. Not "Office HELL!!!", no, "office, hell"; and do take your time after the comma. The effect is that there's so much space in the songs that they become much lighter because of it. The aloofness and spaciousness is reflected in the musical accompaniment, except when the band goes full out on a punk outing.

On the other hand I notice the extreme details that have been worked into the arrangements. The intricate way the two guitars and bass, at times a keyboard, interact. The exciting way they interact bordering on dissonance and yet so fitting. Nothing has been left to chance here. This music is everything but aloof. The results are nine extremely lively songs ranging from 60s The Velvet Underground inspired rockers, to 1980 new wave and sprightly punk. The space in the sound created a totally different record than I would have expected it to be, reading some of the above.

It may seem because of this that Global Charming is a band of youngsters having been born 40 years late, but to that I answer no. The band's music fits in with a lot that is going on in alternative rock in The Netherlands in the past years. A band like traumahelicopter; where are they these days?, is the first one that I was reminded of. I have questioned myself a few times over the past years, whether I'm sort of biased but decided the answer is no. There's a lot of quality in this country, that is deserving of more attention and success.

Global Charming fits the Dutch alternative rock bill totally. Most of the nine songs on Mediocre, Brutal are songs with a twist. Nothing is straightforward. Weird notes, scales and chord progressions seem to find their way into each song. This gives them a prickly quality, inviting people to truly pay attention to what is on offer. To listen how the three guitars interact and find their spaces in the all. To follow how they bounce off each other and come back together. As a result the vocal melody is not your average one as well. And this is trying for the less experienced listener, who most likely will find another occupation for his time. Not me though. This way I really get into the songs on another level and discover what makes them work, why I am so attracted to them, again and again with each listening session.

Hence I get to hear the pounding Mo Tucker inspired drumming in 'Celebration' or before that the joyful melody in the first single 'Soft Fruit'. The more straight forward alternative rock in 'Curveball' or the regular punk of 'No Compromise'. Mediocre, Brutal is full of surprises and thus a very varied album, that is not caught in one listening session. A fun aspect is that a few times on the album it is possible to hear how a (part of a) song would have sounded in the hands of most other bands. Just tweak the vocal melody to two more reasonable notes in your head and bingo. Perhaps even the difference to being played on a nationwide radio show supporting local bands or on more obscure radio stations, around the western world I can add.

The challenges Global Charming offers its listeners are what makes this album so much fun to listen to. Yes, inspiration may have been found in music by bands active up to over half a century ago, this is all about what this band does with these influences in 2020. And that is lot. Mediocre, Brutal is a fully gratifying listening experience. Every time I listen to the 25 minute album, I just want to turn it on again, craving for more gratification. What more could a new band desire?


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