Grubby Little Hands – “No Such Thing” (Stereogum Premiere)

Philly’s Grubby Little Hands began as the project of singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Donnie Felton and Brian Hall. As a duo, they released their first two albums, 2009’s Imaginary Friends and 2012’s The Grass Grew Around Our Feet. But those albums almost didn’t happen due to a tragic event: Hall was stabbed in the stomach in center city Philadelphia by a stranger with a 12″ hunting knife. Thankfully he survived, and Grubby Little Hands went on to make the aforementioned albums. They’re set to release their third LP, Garden Party, later this spring, and they’ve been joined by four additional members to complete a sextet with about as broad a repertoire you’ll find nowadays.

The first offering from the newly formed Grubby Little Hands is the lead single “No Such Thing.” Musically it’s a surfy jaunt, belying its contemplative lyrics. A winding, woozy intro initiates with light, melodic vocal harmonies repeating the song’s title over psych-y guitar. Eventually it warps into beach vibes, with intricate drum work and piercing, pondering lyrics. The churning melody adds wonder to the rumination “Things we heard of/ And things we’ve seen/ Things we’ve made up/ And everything in between,” communicating how fine the lines are between those things, and how many things we think we know but don’t for sure. It’s a song of questions, bouncing off a bed of joyous surf grooves like a kid jumping on the bed with inquiries about things he or she can’t quite understand yet. The delightful, jubilant delivery doesn’t make the questions any easier to answer or wrestle with. That tension between the words and sounds makes for a deceptively beautiful song. Listen.

Garden Party is out 4/29 on Lefse. Pre-order is available in digital form and on vinyl.