Grizfolk: Sign of The Times

Los Angeles-based Grizfolk follow up their 2021 self-titled LP with a new EP, Sign of The Times. Four of the five tracks have been released as singles over the last year with only the titular track being truly new. When packaged together, the songs don’t give a cohesive vision as one would hope but they do not all feel like singles either.

Adam Roth, lead singer/songwriter of Grizfolk, has always had a flare for indie folk. The magic of the group lies in Swedish producers Fredrik Eriksson and Sebastian Fritze ways to interpret Roth’s songwriting into other genres. For example, the EP’s titular track starts off with lush vocal harmonies over downtempo drums and a sampled vocal flourish. It sounds like Play-era Moby remixing Fleet Foxes. The song ebbs and swells from the downtempo folk verses to an arena-sized post-rock chorus that even Explosions in the Sky would be proud of.

“Paper Cranes” isn’t as dynamic of a song as “Sign of the Times” but it is equally inventive. Beginning with acoustic instruments and Roth’s vocals, the steady kick drums breaks into a full disco beat with various synth elements filling out the mix. The combination of folk and disco is reminiscent of tracks like Kasey Musgraves‘ “High Horse” or The Knocks‘ “Slow Song” but keeping Grizfolk’s unique style intact.

That style isn’t necessarily present in every track. “Decoy” melodically and stylistically shares similarities with Arctic Monkeys‘ “Do I Wanna Know?” A drum breakdown and DJ manipulated piano solo saves it from feeling like a complete retread of the 2013 hit but it still doesn’t feel as Grizfolk-y as the rest of the EP.

Of the EP’s final two tracks, “Gold” is the most interesting. “Medicine Man” is a straight ahead rock track while “Gold” is more experimental. It begins with finger-plucked acoustic guitar and Roth’s vocals before different electronic elements are heaped on: downtempo drums, menacing bass synths, and down-pitched vocals among other things. It seems like the track where Eriksson and Fritze were allowed to throw every production trick in the book at the wall to see what stuck. Roth’s songwriting feels overshadowed by the production choices but the electronic elements really make the song.

Because its experimentalism, “Gold” release as the lead single from the collection back in September is the most puzzling choice. It feels more like a deep cut or a b-side with a cult following. The other four tracks on Sign of The Times feel much more single-like but to varying degrees of quality and uniqueness.

Rating: 6.3/10

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