Looking Back At The Early Works Of Groj
When "it's not as good as their earlier work" is the most accurate criticism you can lay upon an artist.
Examining an artist's early projects is an easy place to look if you're trying to dig up highlights or failings. Unfortunatley, almost every time you start a critique with “it's not as good as their earlier work,” it makes you sound like a douchebag. But in the case of Montreal’s native Kevin Jamey, also known as Groj, there's enough truth in that statement to make his case an interesting one.
In a town that's able to look both in and outside of itself for talent, it seems that Groj has both found and lost his nerve with his album's development. Kicking off in 2009 with the Edlothia EP, he stuck his head into the international music scene and was also able to stake his claim in highly organic sounds and his ability to develop a compelling narrative through his tracks. His follow up, Ehf, was also well received and raised the hope that the off-swing tempos, clever melodies and dark pictures being painted would develop into a full LP.
In a move that aligned himself with The National and even Deadmau5 more than anyone expected, it seems that playing it safe was a mistake with Groj's first full length album, Promised Land. With the exception of the intro track, gone are the shifting punches of painstakingly recorded samples that make for excited listening, replaced instead by a light bedtime tale of how underwhelming an album can be when the devices used just make for dull listening and safe techno singles.
This past November, his second LP Playmorium came out to similarly passive yet affirming acclaim. It's a bright and positive album and a polished progression from his last, but it's also incredibly boring, again. The over-production doesn't meet the benchmark set by Groj's early magic, and if he's going to advance and remain relevant, he had better look for more than longevity.