Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Public Practice’s Gentle Grip is at its best when it's agitated

"Gentle Grip"

Release date: 15 May 2020
Public Practice album cover for Gentle Grip
17 May 2020, 02:42 Written by Ben Lynch
As far as aspirational opening lines go, “Take me to the moon” is a pretty lofty start from Public Practice’s guitarist/vocalist Sam York.

Uttered in hazey awe over a grinding bassline, it’s a statement of galactic intent however that has no parallel anywhere else on Gentle Grip. Finding its home firmly among both the post-punk and art-rock of New York bands previous, as well as the current generation of acts such as Parquet Courts and Gauche, Gentle Grip is instead concerned with the immediacy of the present moment and the self. Much can be gleaned from song titles such as “Disposable” and “Compromised”, and it’s within this framework that the album operates with general success.

The questioning of one’s own actions and how to navigate through the intricacies of life guides the essence of Gentle Grip. While topics themselves range from honesty (“Each Other”) to integrity (“Compromised”) and a lack of permanence (“Disposable”), York is persistently deliberating on what the right course of action should be. On “Head”, she acknowledges that her perception of reality is itself uncertain and vulnerable (“Shouting voices so misled, turns out they were in my head”), but her curiosity and willingness to investigate makes for gripping listening.

There are times throughout Gentle Grip however where this immediacy wanes, and it is normally to the album’s detriment. “Leave Me Alone” isn’t just tired, it’s also tepid, a languishing track that fails to be either sorrowful or demanding. “How I Like It” is similarly nondescript, a far cry from the enthralling directness of tracks such as “Understanding”.

Upon revision, York’s initial request to be taken to the moon sounds less like some otherworldly ambition, but more of a desire to escape to somewhere new. As Public Practice scrutinise the various challenges life throws our way, the resulting exhaustion makes such a desire understandable. It’s these observations however which fom the bedrock of Gentle Grip, its best moments also its most agitated. For those of us keen on more of the same from York and co, let's just hope she keeps her beady eye on the anxieties of the everyday and not on paying a visit to outerspace.

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