Robbers on High Street: Grand Animals

1960’s rock and roll gets a pop overhaul on Robbers on High Street’s Grand Animals.  Taking cues from the Rolling Stones and the Kinks, the band explores ethereal components of their songs.  Vocals by Ben Troken recall a young Elvis Costello.  Minimal sounding ballads, like “The Ramp,” incorporate piano with in-and-out drums to support Troken’s soft musings.  Italian composer Daniele Luppi (known for his work with Danger Mouse on Gnarls Barkley’s St. Elsewhere) was commissioned to write the material for this disc.  In doing so, he included a low-fi organ background against guitarist Steve Mercado’s precise tones.  Troken’s falsetto comes into place with “Kick ‘Em in the Shins,” a stop-start borderline punk song.  Featuring several types of instruments such as strings, organs, handclaps, French horns, and sousaphones (by bassist Morgan King), one would imagine that the sound would go overboard.  However, Robbers on High Street have created some sounds that are precisely orchestrated without sounding superfluous.  Every tone has its own place.  In this vein, Grand Animals is one that takes a few listens to glean, while growing with each play.  1960’s Brit-pop, you are revived. 

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