When I was fortunate enough to be asked, I said yes immediately to hosting the premiere of the new Grifter video for the track “Princess Leia” from their upcoming album, The Return of the Bearded Brethren. My reasons were manifold. I’m excited about the release — it’s out Aug. 11 on Ripple Music as the follow-up to Grifter‘s 2011 self-titled debut (review here) — but the song itself also sums up a lot about what I think the UK trio do really well musically and lyrically.
It’s a straightforward song, and Grifter are a straightforward band. They write classic heavy rock hooks, but have a completely modern approach to their sound and perspective. Bassist Phil, drummer Foz and guitarist/vocalist Ollie Stygall have a crisp chemistry. Their material swings, as “Princess Leia” showcases, but it does so always with a forward direction in mind. The lyrics to “Princess Leia” also remind of Grifter‘s ability to couch some pretty personal issues in a humorous package. We’ve heard them do this before, on a song like “Young Blood, Old Veins” from the last album, but by using the frame of a boyhood crush on the Star Wars character, Stygall and company are able to look at getting older through an even cleverer lens.
And make no mistake, that is what they’re doing. The opening line of the song is “I’m a man of a certain age,” and the Orange Goblin-style rush of the chorus abandons all facade and pleads, “Take me back to better times, yeah/Strip the years away.” But rather than simply reflect on bygone days and regrets and the usual midlife blah blah blah, Grifter poke fun not only at themselves, but at the whole notion of mourning the passage of time, and “Princess Leia” — whatever it might be saying or speaking to emotionally — remains a fun, engaging song.
The video likewise. One thing I’ve always enjoyed about Grifter is how even at their most gleefully classless — see “Alabama Hotpocket” from the self-titled — they work clean. Princess Leia does indeed appear in the video, and she does indeed boogie down (hilariously by the end of it), but she doesn’t strip, and Grifter don’t give into the gold-bikini impulse. That would be easy, and thoughtless, and Grifter aren’t that band.
The Return of the Bearded Brethren is out Aug. 11 on Ripple Music. Enjoy “Princess Leia” below, as directed by Russell Cleave: