"Graveyard is a band best heard in passing. Imagine you’re downtown at night,
strolling past some dive bar that would be unappealing if not for the sounds
coming from inside: bluesy and urgent, with a certain understanding of a time
you never knew. Your curiosity is piqued. You walk in, buy a drink, and find a
place to stand to enjoy the show. Four guys are up on stage with what first
seems like the intention to play fast, get paid, and get out, but as their set
goes on, their pace slows, and they begin to bare their souls and their love
for the music. At points, it all may seem played out and just a little bit too
familiar, but there are overlapping moments on Innocence & Decadence, the
Swedish band’s fourth album, when the music not only draws your attention, but
provokes your thoughts as to why it all works the way it does.
At first listen, Graveyard is a band steeped in late ’60s nostalgia. On
pop-leaning tracks like “The Apple & the Tree”, you might mistake them for
Cream. On the heavier and more brooding tracks, like “Can’t Walk Out”, they’re
The Doors. Jonatan Ramm’s riffs sound like they’ve never seen the light of the
21st century, and Joakim Nilsson’s voice drips with whiskey.
Where you might feel like you’ve gotten a pretty good grasp of their sound
after “The Apple & the Tree”, the album’s second song, you might be tempted to
leave, especially because the next one sounds like all the energy in the room
has been extinguished. Stick around, though, because the sleeper ballad “Exit
97” is the best track Innocence & Decadence has to offer. Nilsson’s mournful
vocals sulk through a damp and steady rainfall of snares and hi-hats before
organ greets his misery and gets him swinging from lampposts like some
nihilistic Gene Kelly. It’s a soulful act that can reach the lonesome blues in
anyone’s heart. It’s comforting, it’s familiar — it’s comforting because it’s
familiar. And when you take a look at Graveyard’s discography, you’ll find
that any sort of enjoyment of their music derives from that very nostalgia.
That can be problematic. Music like Graveyard’s, so heavily nostalgic for a
time nearly half a century gone, can only be enjoyed for what it is. Quality
can only get you so far when you forgo innovation in favor of remembering the
good ol’ days. Of course, it’s any artist’s prerogative to be inspired by
whatever they like, so it’s no serious detriment to Graveyard’s satisfactory
body of work. The fast-paced, nearly headbang-worthy energy in tracks like
“Never Theirs to Sell”, “From a Hole in the Wall”, and “Hard Headed” is
undeniable, while the slow-rolling drawl of tracks like “Too Much Is Not
Enough” and “Far Too Close” keeps the heart and passion of Innocence &
Decadence burning. It still remains, though, that active fans may be left
underwhelmed and wanting more. So, while you’ll likely be tapping your foot
and nodding your head, you might also be wrestling with the fact that none of
this is new.
Graveyard has the allure of an artifact from some bygone era, and they’re all
the better in the sense that the artifact is very much living and breathing.
The band is good at doing what they’ve set out to do, and when it comes down
to what matters, all parties involved — musicians and listeners alike — will
surely enjoy themselves. When the band is done playing, though, with the stage
struck and crowd dispersed, you’ll find yourself outside the bar greeting the
cool night air, and in those first few breaths, you’ll catch yourself
wondering about all the possibilities yet to be explored."