After having released mini album ‘Next Week In Münster’ back in May, Roger Heathers is back again with another mini album, ‘Grim’. Looking at the cover, my first thought was that this might be a Halloween record, but more than anything it is a set of love songs that don’t seem thematically tied to the grim reaper who has fallen asleep in an armchair on the cover. Maybe the point is that we are free to go on with our lives and loves as long as he is asleep? I am probably missing something obvious…
Whereas the previous album was a heavily arranged and intricate sounding 10CCesque affair, this is a quite stripped down set with acoustic guitar and vocals in the fore, as well as additional voices in the back. In fact, rather than calling this acoustic as Heathers does, I’d go as far as to call this a vocal extravaganza with lots of multi-tracked voices all over the place, both in fore- and background.
Unashamed harmony pop, then, quite beautiful yet thankfully without any cloying sweetness – but grim? No, not at all!
The songwriting remains as creative as on the previous album, although the songs come across as less complex mainly due to the use of fewer instruments. There aren’t even drums here… But despite intricate twists and turns in the melodies, it all seems unforced and the songwriting seems inspired.
It all makes for a very enjoyable listen. I particularly like the autumnal and somewhat brooding intro song ‘Reverie’. Then there is ‘Magic Happens’ which adds a welcome bit of piano, and ‘Untitled #2’ with its propulsive rhythmic drive despite the lack of drums.
As on previous offerings, it is quite difficult not to be charmed by the energy and musical enthusiasm on offer. At the same time, you get a strong feeling that there is still a lot of untapped potential, and that Heathers is still just playing around and trying stuff out, while feeling his way towards something much more substantial. So, although this is a very good little album in its own right, it also raises expectations of what he will do next. With all the talent on display here as well as on the May release, I am expecting big things ahead.