Scotland’s Algernon Doll graduates from the Elliott Smith school of Pacific northwest songwriting to become a scholar in Seattle grunge
Ewan Grant, aka Algernon Doll, initially bore comparison to Portland’s cult interest Elliott Smith, with the Scottish songwriter’s 2012 album Camomile operating in the same kind of frosty, indie-folk territory in which Smith’s early, lo-fi recordings dwelled. His voice too had the same, softly shattering effect, like a crumpled tenor.
In the two years since that release, Grant has taken his sound away from the delicate acoustic style of Smith, moving towards the harsher sound of northwest America’s other, equally self-reviled son. New single Spilt Milk Perfume finds Grant closer to the grunge songwriting of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, adding to this riffs that sound as though Billy Corgan and J Mascis are fighting for attention in a bowl of cream.
With such illustrious bedfellows, the risk of being a one-night stand means Grant’s songwriting must perform at peak level. It’s a challenge that he meets with aplomb, with a lazy pop sensibility that will see him make many friends among the current indie-rock revivalists.
Verdict: Satisfying indie-rock that marks a new direction for Algernon Doll