Electronica has played an increasingly prominent role in John Grant’s ever-evolving solo career, the Midlake-assisted balladry of 2010’s Queen of Denmark largely being usurped by synths by the time of 2015’s absorbing Grey Tickles, Black Pressure. His 2016 performance with British analogue electro trio Wrangler (comprising Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder, Tunng’s Phil Winter and sometime John Foxx foil Benge) at the Barbican, London, felt like a natural next step. Two years on, that project has a name, and a debut album that is by turns ominous-sounding, inventive and, on K Mart Johnny – a Blue Jam-like evocation of plastic-dinosaur-based children revenge – surprisingly funny. For the most part, the voices of Grant and Mallinder have been heavily treated, pitched up or down, rendering their contributions largely indistinguishable, as on the rudimentary electro of Tokyo Metro and the vocoder-assisted Pink Squirrel. It’s telling therefore that the closing Safe and Sound, on which Grant’s affecting baritone is unadorned by studio trickery, stands head and shoulders above the rest. Other highlights include the lurching funk of Modern Parenting and the icy Kraftwerkisms of Fall.
Phil Mongredien works on the Guardian's opinion desk. He also reviews albums for Q magazine