Barrie Lindsay originally began Grammar as a 15-piece chamber pop group during her studies in music theory and composition at Wesleyan in Connecticut. The band has streamlined somewhat since then and Lindsay calls on her older brother as part of the surviving quintet. With the reduction of contributors, comes the inevitable changes in approach but on Grammar’s first EP, Lindsay make light of this to produce some really poignant, lovelorn moments.
‘Summer Skin’ is a decent scene setter even if Barrie’s cooing vocals, assisted by echo, err towards the cutesy side. Although there are suggestions of Fleetwood Mac, the song comes across as a little slight, almost as if the band are saving themselves for a big moment but then you begin to appreciate one of Grammar’s main qualities is their restraint. Propelled by bouncy beats, summery guitar and positive lyrics, ‘Head Up’ has a cheerier outlook which is both charming and likeable. However, ‘Cambridge’ is surely the definitive demonstration of the benefits of downsizing and stripping away the glitz. Lindsay and some gorgeous backing harmonies carry along a beautiful melody. At once the song echoes an innocent (possibly doomed) young romance and the chorus is a gem.
‘New World’ and ‘Foxes’ continue the trend in tender songwriting and subdued arrangements. It has to be said, there may be times when Grammar sound like a muted version of The Mummers but it would be tough to find five songs as warm and as intimate as this.