Public Practice: Gentle Grip (Wharf Cat) - review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, January 27th, 2021  

Public Practice

Gentle Grip

Wharf Cat

May 26, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

NYC collective Public Practice consists of Samantha York and Vince McClelland from the excellent but short-lived post-punk band Wall and Drew Citron and Scott Rosenthal from equally wonderful Beverly. They’ve been gaining plaudits since 2018 for their danceable spiky take on New Wave art-pop. Their debut album Gentle Grip sees them expand their vision onto a much larger canvas. The collective embrace a wide variety of styles mixing angular post-punk guitars with strutting low-slung funk riffs all driven by huge hypnotic funk/dub bass lines producing a sound that at times is reminiscent of The Slits slamming into The B52’s at a ’70s disco.

Singer Samantha York, who pens most of the band’s lyrics, is a fizzing effervescent presence throughout and is never anything less than hugely compelling. At times Public Practice can recall Blondie during their New Wave disco era, at other times the angular agit art-pop of UK bands such as The Au Pairs and The Passions. 

Gentle Grip, released on Wharf Cat (a label who have been absolutely on fire of late), is a genuinely exciting, vibrant, and captivating body of work. Earlier this year York told The List website “You don’t always get the chorus when you want it, and some songs will leave you questioning what the chorus actually is” and that’s apparent throughout Gentle Grip as Public Practice deconstruct traditional songwriting structures and in doing so provide more twists, turns, and surprises around every corner than the screenplay of Knives Out.

Opener “Moon” has an almost industrial vibe and fuses driving electronica with York’s imperious semi-spoken vocals and is like nothing else on the album. “Cities” is imbued with that melodic, angular jittery form of art-rock that the Talking Heads so excelled at. “Each Other” is rammed with furious post-punk energy, whilst previous single “Compromised” is a joyous exploration of moral dilemmas in the face of rampant consumerism. “My Head” is, without doubt, the album’s funkiest most upbeat moment, all ska beats, synths, and rumbling monolithic basslines. 

Gentle Grip is an eclectic and thrilling ride and breathes new life into art-pop, avant-funk, and disco-infused guitar rock. It also demonstrates what a supremely astute lyricist York is and showcases the intuitive technical brilliance of her bandmates. Essentially it’s an album that seeks to unify rather than divide and is full of thought-provoking themes about how to live a better life. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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