Greys - If Anything (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


If Anything (2014)

Carpark Records

Genres are imperfect, and the label of "post—hardcore" betrays Toronto punk quartet Greys more than it helps them. The term implies too many post—Refused quirks that went sour in practice over the last 15 years, and none of that need burden this band or this record. Greys are fundamentally uncomplicated with the caveat that they're not going to constrain themselves to by—the—books hardcore. They foreshadow some cool future directions on this record but don't yet go down that road. That's entirely different than whatever post—hardcore supposedly means these days.

There's a certain elegance to If Anything. This is a fast, loud, rock'n'roll band with more propulsion at this point then swing. The sound's not dissimilar from the preceding Easy Listening 10—inch, but the writing's greatly matured, enough so that there's some genuine memorable hooks backing up the rage. The single "Guy Picciotto" implies certain comparisons, but DC—style guitar work aside, what Greys share most with Fugazi is a wry sense of frustration. Yet lyrically, tracks like "Chick Singer" and "Use Your Delusion" are on the nose (more Minor Threat than Fugazi) and that gives Greys a direct, youthful punk rock fury that "post—hardcore," with its implied maturity, doesn't convey.

Perhaps we're better served by considering If Anything as a record in the Drive Like Jehu lineage. You can definitely reapply many of the praises lumped on Hot Snakes' output to this set. "Girl in Landscape" in particular features some of those sinister buzzing guitars and vocalist Shehzaad Jiwani's sarcastic deadpan can remind one of Rick Froberg. This is evident on scorchers like "Adderall" and "Brain Dead." The band burns through ten such tracks in around 28 minutes (a big extended bridge on "Cold Soak" being the lone exception before the conclusion).

Which brings us to "Lull." The five and a half minute closing song on If Anything is unlike anything Greys have recorded, it's a mid—tempo number that builds slowly from a subdued intro to Jiwani's familiar shout, oscillating between understated verses and the fury we've come to expect. After half a dozen bangers the effect's dramatic. "Lull" is interesting not necessarily for what it is, but for what it portends. Greys literally couldn't be more upfront about their influences, and for all their Fugazi and Constantines worship (a "National Hum" cover is a live staple) they've not yet embraced either of those bands' penchants for contrasting bombast with quiet moments. If that's where we're headed, If Anything is ripe for a really interesting retrospective look one day. As it stands now, it's a killer, visceral record and well worth adding to your mix.