Gray Home Music's fourth album, Motorcycle One, is its first for Third Uncle and easily the most calculated, ambitious record of the band's short life. In a densely packed 35-or-so minutes, Graham Wood, the "gray home" in Gray Home Music, betrays just how much lonely studio experimentation he's been up to in the three years since GHM's Send Some Energy to Me, apparently building layers of Death Cab/Superchunk guitars in his spare time and learning to stretch his tenor to its emotive peak (see "Discarded Star Pianos" or "Field Study Samples" and don't forget to catch your breath).
The lapse between releases was also spent accumulating some very heavy biographical material that Wood has spun here into a neatly unified cycle of pop meditations on materialism, fading childhood memories, relocation and the pain of death. If that sounds a little heavy—and it certainly is—the collection manages never to drag under the weight of its text. In fact, the whole thing is so coated with tuneful pop optimism, not to mention production keen on headphone treats ("Drinking Light," "Electric Keyboard"), that the overwhelming aftertaste of Motorcycle One is sweet, warm and fuzzy, if just a little melancholy. Like a sonic wine cooler.
GHM previously released three discs on the venerable Brooklyn-cum-Athens, Ga., label bumbleBEAR; albums that sit in line with other great pop by folks such as Bugs Eat Books, Fairmont Fair and the Boys' Star Library.