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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Bring in the noise, bring in the fun

Published: March 9, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

Last Wednesday at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, The Grownup Noise delighted the crowd with an hour of charming and propulsive rock and roll. The quartet brought its sunny melodies to the small basement venue, which seemed better suited to an emo-core throwdown or a subversive political meeting. From the jangly opener Grey Skies, to the whimsical closing number Vampire Love Song, the Noise thrilled the audience with expert musicianship and songcraft.

It is rare to see a show where every song holds its own distinct pleasure, but The Grownup Noise delivered just that. Though the band maintained a cohesive and recognizable sound, each tune added a new wrinkle. Nothing is Real, started out with a heavy, churning intro by guitarist/vocalist Paul Hansen and Bassist Adam Sankowski, but it concluded with a bright, soaring coda. Another highlight was the breezy Fairy Tale, a song with a vocal melody so catchy it could render choruses obsolete, and an elegant cello solo from cellist/keyboardist/cowbell enthusiast Katie Franich.

The balance between the groups various sonic elements was exceptional as well. The chemistry between Hansens guitar and Sankowskis bass kept the sound buoyant, and percussionist Kyle Crane gave the songs momentum and texture with his nimble drumming. While many groups force their drummer and bassist into the role of mere metronomes, The Grownup Noise manages to foreground the dexterity of its talented rhythm section. And even in the subterranean Lizard Lounge, the subtler strains of Franichs cello came through with perfect clarity.

This dynamic came through most clearly on new tune Gone is a Four Letter Word. The song transitioned smoothly from a slow burning beginning, to a raucous, jagged bridge, and into a delicate canonical refrain by Hansen, Sankowski, and Franich, before diving headlong into a cheerful, rocking conclusion.

The groups hour-long set passed in the blink of an eye. It comprised mostly original tunes, with the lone exception a Jimi Hendrix cover on which Hansen set aside his jazzy guitar sensibility and did a credible job shredding. Overall, though, the band leans towards the clever pop of Guster and Ben Folds, but with some of the gentle flourishes of The Decemberists and The Arcade Fire. After an hour with The Grownup Noise, their infectious songs will become the soundtrack for the romantic comedy you secretly imagine your life turning into.

You can catch The Grownup Noise headlining the Paradise Lounge in Boston on April 5th.