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Album review: John Grant – Grey Tickles, Black Pressure

By Matthew Todd

Attitude’s former Man of the Year is back with his third album, Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, the follow up to 2013’s Pale Green Ghosts. From the outset, it’s clear that this is more punk than his previous works, and it moves into darker electronic territory – elements of which are similar to the score of an eerie John Carpenter film.


As the only post-legal equality, mid-40s gay man expressing that experience with honesty, clarity and authenticity, on this record he acknowledges he is damaged by society – but slowly healing. He continues to enjoy a camp pop culture sensibility; a highlight is a song about emotional maturity named after 70s hair product No More Tangles; but it never smothers the emotional punch.

There is optimism too in Disappointing, the duet with Tracey Thorn and the cute Voodoo Doll, not a bitchy anthem as you might presume, instead, about treating a friend who needs it with kindness, a song which specifically sums up Grant’s place in gay culture. We need to be vulnerable and kind, to ourselves first, and then others.

Although not quite as instantly compelling as Pale Green Ghosts, this record has moments of sheer beauty and unbearable melancholy, which makes it an essential purchase. At this rate, he’s shaping up to be the man, not of the year, but of the decade.

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