The Gruntled

Composed of members of Palm Beach County's most stonerriffic bands, the Gruntled lays a playful pop-rock structure la Mr. Entertainment over Baby Robotsesque shoe-gazer meanderings. The residual lysergic hangover aligns the 12 songs on the band's self-titled debut in the catch-all descriptor known as quirky and keeps it from finding a thematic peg for its music. Alternating from trio to occasional four-piece, the Gruntled follows a formula of gentle strum – drum intro – distorted strum – bridge – fin, with backing vocals or a keyboard sometimes lending extra heft. With songwriting this loose, a confident vocal thrust would provide a crucial foundation, but unfortunately, lead vocalist/guitarist Mark Zolezzi rarely summons enough bravado to lead the charge. When he does -- like on the beefy "Just Thinking" -- the result almost catches fire, but obtuse lyrics don't do much to fan the flame. Longer, languid dirges like "Dust" and the hidden "Porch Town Specials" do sparkle with lo-fi soul and an intimate wink, revealing the charm and potential Zolezzi clearly possesses but never fully brings to bear. It's no dis to say the Gruntled needs something more.

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