the GOLDEN DREGS - On Grace & Dignity album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions


On Grace & Dignity


The Golden Dregs is a fitting name for the rising UK band, who just came out with an album of ten desperate and dark songs, with its share of silver linings, called On Grace & Dignity, with their new label, 4AD records. Benjamin Woods who has a voice that naturally reaches the lowest in the vocal register, so that he has an uncanny resemblance to Kurt Wagner of Lambchop, and shares some of his bleak optimism, as well, is certainly the highlight of the album.

Like that other low end band, The National, there are arrangements and the occasional chorus that make it an enjoyable, adventurous listen. Fit with wonderful sax arrangements and female vocals, the random funkiness in some of the songs is a compelling counterpoint to Woods’ deep and introspective lyrics and croon.

With an album called On Grace & Dignity, you might imagine song after song, celebrating the characters who display such characteristics. And it is certainly in there. But as Woods sings in the song “Vista”, a song about riots and putting bricks through buildings and relaxing nights on building tops, the highs and lows of life, “Think of me not with admiration or respect / For I have seen it all now.” What he’s seen—friends in hospital gowns, good men dying young, a fire that even the rain couldn’t put out—is like Morrissey sings, “Enough to make a good man cry.”

This is an album to weep to, though it deals with “grace and dignity” with the fraught human experience. And Woods’ voice is the perfect vehicle for communicating this compassion, confusion, frustration, and wonder. There is enough story to each of the songs to keep you riveted, listening. And there is a worn wisdom in Woods’ storytelling. (“She tells me the loves that she’s known / And yet regrets / I’m grateful that my thoughts are pure / and with respect, I offer up my coat.”) Hopefully this will be the kind of album that just finds more and more listeners as the year goes on. Their signing to 4AD, their riding of the current indie aesthetic, and their damn good songwriting, make that a pretty good chance for success.

Order On Grace & Dignity by the GOLDEN DREGS HERE


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