You can certainly imagine the upbringing of Australian brothers Benjamin and Joshua Garden as they spent hours listening to the likes of Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk, possibly whilst building spaceships out of lego. It makes perfect sense that – after some initial success in their native land – they should be touring Europe with their debut record.
That said, sometimes it’s hard to take Grafton Primary seriously. Though ‘We Are The Music’ is supposedly ironic (witness lyrics like “Be prepared to be ensnared within my lair if you enter there. So you’d be best be aware”), other songs like ‘Telling Lies’ and ‘All Stars’ seem trapped in a high energy, trashy electroclash revival. ‘Hold Her’ is an exception as it’s one of the “busier” tracks that manages to stay afloat from the superficial zone thanks to its convincing melodies.
Overall, the duo sound best the more minimalist their arrangements are. Although still essentially electro-pop, ‘Records For The Righteous’ and ‘Colour’ possess a European austerity that is cold but attractive. Just occasionally they reveal some human emotions too; there’s hints of despair on ‘All There Is’ as if Grafton Primary are being broken by the machines they operate so capably whilst ‘Heart In Space’ and the downbeat finale ‘Dimension Of Tears’ are unusually subtle.
Enjoyment of Grafton Primary’s music will depend on your feelings for melancholic 1980’s electro-pop because the Garden brothers aren’t uprooting any trees here, in terms of originality. Yet even if ‘Eon’ is largely an emotional blank canvas, it has an edginess and sharpness that steers it clear of mere pastiche.
Depeche Mode, Colder, Zoot Woman