Be Impressive: an imperative statement that demands attention and cultivates a call to action. That’s exactly what The Griswolds have accomplished with their debut album of the same name. The Australian indie rockers have gained widely acclaimed fame in their home country, and now, they are bringing their infectious dance tunes to the Unites States. The Griswolds will fit right in with the new wave of electronic infused indie rock bands currently stealing the spotlight in the festival world such as Foster The People (Review) and MGMT.
The recording of Be Impressive took place in two completely different settings, giving the album a split personality. The first half of the album was recorded in the Australian outback and the second half in New York City. The juxtaposition between the first and second half of the record is hard to ignore. While it doesn’t take away from the talent or musicianship of the band, it does present two different sounds, which can be a bit confusing to listeners, but shows the diversity and range of their musical ability.
From start to finish, the album commands attention with high-energy beats and synth-filled choruses. The album’s single, “Beware The Dog,” follows suit with the tropical-inspired sound found in the band’s earlier releases. It’s easy to see why this song caught the attention of the public ear because it’s easily the catchiest track on the album. The lyrics pack a punch while drums and guitar provide a melody that is impossible to ignore.
While “Beware The Dog” is a catchy track, the song that really steals the show comes directly after it. It’s surprising to see such a powerful song follow up the album’s first single, but “If You Wanna Stay” stands tall next to the fan favorite. A fast-paced piano driven chorus keeps the song rolling along effortlessly. It’s really easy to get lost in this song so much so that the vocals could be terrible, and it wouldn’t have any affect on the song quality. It really takes the listener in and allows them to get lost in the music, a beautiful trait that will transcend perfectly during a live show.
“Down and Out” sounds like an ‘80s pop track with today’s electronic capabilities. It’s immediately evident that the song will be fun and energetic. The backing chants of “down and out” bring a depth to the vocals that only draw attention and invite listeners to chant along. The song goes back and forth between fun electronic beats and humming electric guitars best known in the indie rock genre.
“Be Impressive,” the album’s title track, adopts a cheerleader mentality at the beginning with “Be Impressive” being spelled out and mimicked like the “Be Aggressive” cheer heard at sporting events across the country. This song sounds like it could be a sister track to any of the songs that appear on Foster The People’s Supermodel.
Be Impressive rolls along smoothly and energetically until the track “Thread The Needle.” This is the first time on the album when lead singer Christopher Whitehall’s vocals really shine, previously being overpowered by electronic beats and synths. This type of song is important on an album infiltrated with so many dance tracks and electronic elements because it gives listeners a chance to witness the stripped down talent of The Griswolds.
All of the songs on Be Impressive are an invitation to join in on the fun. There’s no way you can sit still and listen to this album. It invites you to be an active participant and interact with the music. The Griswolds are one of those bands you can see for the first time live and walk away a huge fan. There’s likability in their music that transcends through the headphones or speakers and into the life of the listener. While their music is fun and catchy, it’s not empty. Their songs can make you dance, but also hit home lyrically.
The album title not only serves a practical purpose, but also sets a standard for the band, a standard that can only be accomplished by driven, motivated individuals who want to see their lives change for the better. It’s almost as if the album serves as a pep talk to the band to go beyond their limits and reach their dreams. A pep talk that says, “Don’t be mediocre. Be impressive.”