Grand Archives is the newest group from singer/guitarist Mat Brooke (who's also been a part of Band Of Horses and Carissa's Wierd) and like a true debut album, The Grand Archives is a bit all over the place. As the cover photograph suggests, there's a lot of piano on the release, but it moves from ballad to rock anthem to rambunctious pop and back again with a variety of success.
A good portion of the release moves with sort of a breezy Southern-California-inspired pop sound that has a lot in common with groups like The Elected (especially Sun, Sun, Sun). Both "Miniature Birds" and "A Setting Sun" mix steel guitar, piano, and nicely layered guitars with warm vocals in ways that are effective and conjure up spring. On the other hand, songs like "Swan Matches" and "Sleepdriving" move with a sort of ultra-lush grandiose ballad sound that certainly sounds nice enough, but has been done by many other groups (including Brooke's very own Band Of Horses) in similar ways.
Along the way, more experimental shorts like the instrumental dub/folk "Breezy No Breezy" come out of nowhere, but the group is at their absolute best on the full-throttle "The Crime Window," which brings in layered horns and a loud background choir over the top of a straight-up rocking track that has sing-along qualities not too far off from Cheap Trick. Great in moments and undecided in others, The Grand Archives show hints of promise here, but don't really have enough to set them apart.