Album Review: Body Language - Grammar

Album Reviews
Gerrit Feenstra

"If we keep our heads above the water, our heads will only become stronger", sings Angelica Bess on Body Language's Grammar closer "Charm". With new LP Grammar, the Brooklyn synth-pop act is doing a lot more than treading water, though. The band's Social Studies EP was a solid first effort, showing off their sound quite well and setting them up to play live gigs with introductions ahead of them. But with Grammar, the band is really coming into their own, and you'd be hard pressed to really find any serious turn offs. The LP is both inviting and enticing, not sacrificing the band's signature danceable sound, while maintaining an approachability that runs circles around many bands on the indie circuit. Catchy and summery, even in the last days of the season, Grammar will have you hitting repeat like there's no tomorrow - avoid at your own loss.

Take a gander at Body Language's new single, "Just Because", and you'll understand instantly why these guys are destined for greatness. A warm synth-pop sound is counterbalanced with vintage disco vibes and strong harmony in the vocals. Body Language are dialed in to the scene right now. Their record is a signature cocktail, equal parts Dirty Projectors, Passion Pit, and Cults, with an under the table scoop of their own chemical X. The result is an organic, grooving mix that will have you hitting repeat more often than not. "Just Because" is followed on the record by "I'm A Mess", a live staple of the band's. The mixture of sugary longing and slight melancholy is magical, and throw in that bass synth line at the end of each chorus line and you've got a hit, dammit. With Grammar, Body Language are upping the ante on songwriting and hook quality. Don't get me wrong - tunes like "You Can" off of Social Studies are golden little bits of paradise. But beginning to end, Grammar is lyrical and musical progress for Body Language. It's the kind of record you break with.

As the record goes on, more tunes destined to be live performance gold like "Well Absolutely" and "Lose My Head" keep the party going. But where Body Language really show their stripes on Grammar is when the party cools a bit. The swooning "Carillon" takes their sound to a pulsing, psychedelic place we haven't seen the band travel yet. The production is huge and the track is exploding with color and vibrancy. That same color is present on many of the more danceable tracks on the record, but here, you really get to see the full extent of it. Similar things happen on the sultry, atmospheric dreamscape of "Lovelife". On "What's The Point", Body Language channel their classic R&B demons for a soulful cry for true love. But things brighten up before the end of the record. The marching band anthem of "The First" is a great bit of self reflection for the band that might guide them in the coming months and years. Remembering why you do what you do is a big deal, and for a band in the process of discovering their sound and their delivery, that's even more important. Body Language seems to have a damn good start, though. If Grammar is any sign of what's next for these guys, we have some great tunes coming our way in the near future.

Grammar is out September 10 via Lavish Habits. The band is playing throughout California mid-September, but has no Seattle dates posted at this time. Visit the band's Facebook for more details. You don't want to miss them when they arrive!

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