It seems like whenever I try to sum up 4 Beat Grace exactly – and I’ve tried several times – ultimately, I fail. The Zurich-based band not only covers the post-punk genre but dives deep into the possibilities of all sounds microtonal. That implies applying their extraordinary technique to alternative rock explorations to dub nuances, filling in the musical gaps along the way.
On the self-titled debut EP, 4 Beat Grace goes for a spaced-out, industrial post-punk that simultaneously bursts with energetic electronic explorations. In a way, it’s an obvious combination of the sounds you expect from someone who moves for inspiration to Siouxsie and the Banshees, Alien Sex Fiend, or The Cramps.
From the opening track, ‘Storm,’ the listener is instantly drawn in by the post-punk vibe of the pounding drums and pulsing bass. In contrast, on ‘Existence,’ the sound is more aggravated. Arranged around the songwriting, the overdriven guitar work, and centric lyrics, ‘Existence’ is heavy-duty, fast grab, poignant, but danceable. As the band told us, the song is about the “mindful treatment of yourself, your fellow human beings, and how you meet the others in this world who trample any ethics with their feet. A call for more respect on our planet.”
‘Violence Dance’ transports the listener back to the Riot Grrrl movement due to its intense words and message that pushes listeners to forget their worries and frustration for a short time. A lot of the EP centers around feelings of frustration, social equality, and questioning entrenched views. And while the band has drawn on many inspirations from the past, they have managed to create a sound that is entirely their own. They say ‘Violence Dance’ is the soundtrack for overcoming frustration. Well, it certainly feels like it. Like a drug consistently promising ‘great times are coming,’ the song is hugely addictive, making you tear your clothes and dance your feet off. The track is “about the brief immersion from the stressful everyday life – the immersion in the world of subcultures. Lose inhibitions, let go, dance away the pent-up aggressions.”
‘Voyage’ opens with a dancey drum beat and swirling shoegaze guitar. As soon as vocals enter the story, you’ll get goosebumps hearing the band harmonizing, ‘i’m on a journey. The track is so pulsating and dynamic that it has radiant star power to mesmerize an entire galaxy. “A journey through time and space at what feels like the speed of light. ‘Voyage’ is a detour to dreamland, where there are no obstacles, where everything is possible and happens. It is not for nothing that the voice asks: <<Am I flying? Am I on a spaceship?>>”
Broadly, the EP maintains a sense of futuristic nostalgia; however, there are moments of levity. Like many post-punk and punk-rock in the early-20s, the EP feels like an exploration of growing and aging in the digital era. ‘Imagination’ feels dark and uncertain. As we’ve been told, ‘Imagination’ is a daydream about “sinking into the dark nothingness. Musically dark and sticky. You don’t know if the end is near. The track was created during a very long period of rain.”
What can’t go unmentioned about 4 Beat Grace‘s songwriting style is their aptitude for writing simple yet profound lyrics about their dark dream worlds. Unfortunately, some songs have less emotional poignancy than others do. For me, ‘Falling’ is the album’s weakest; there’s nothing wrong with the song; I don’t resonate with it.
If something is surprising on “4 Beat Grace”, it comes with closer ‘Imagination.’ It features bass-driven verses that erupt as they are carried by an impressively versatile and theatrical vocal performance. It brings to a close an EP that’s never less than solid and often quite excellent. If you are looking for some dark post-punk, plenty of other bands out there will scratch that itch, but if you wish for something a little more feel-good-danceable, this EP is the one for you. What’s for sure is that with this energetic and tuneful debut, 4 Beat Grace has marked itself out as a band to watch out for.
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