words by tom johnson
photograph by charlotte swinburne
Without any context at all HTMLflowers’ new record would be a captivating beast; a fiery, wholesome and invigorating bout of hip-hop and new-age pop music that always strives for that magic combination that illuminates the genre: power and playfulness. The flow is wild, Grant Gronewold’s voice ripping through all variety of verses and diatribes, while the whole thing is balanced, brought back in to the light by the inventiveness of the instrumentation that underpins the whole thing brilliantly – sometimes beautifully – throughout.
But, as with all the most important records, context is everything. Groneworld suffers from Cystic Fibrosis –
self-describing themselves as “hospitalized as fuck” – battling through their late twenties with the knowledge that the quickly approaching their life-expectancy limit. Which makes the Melbourne artists new album, Chrome Halo, such a remarkable work of art, those ever-present problems adorning so many of the smart turns of phrase found here with a heavy-hearted, strikingly poignant edge that doesn’t just resonate throughout the album but becomes a whole character in itself.
A document, of sorts, of Groneworld’s life and how defined they feel by their health struggles, the record offers numerous glimpses in to both his everyday life and psyche. “I was easy to love once…wasn’t I?” they sings on the hazy, gorgeous pop balladry found on the record’s title-track, while ‘Non-compliant Patient’ simmers with loneliness and dead-of-night lamentation, while the dizzyingly good ‘Sleep Good’ mixes the vibrant production of Felicity Yang with a hardened vocal: “Tomorrow always wakes up to soon, I’m scared as hell to tell the truth though…”
As stirring and important as it is thrilling, Chrome World is a one-of-a-kind, the sort of record that could only have been crafted by this artist in this environment. That it all feels so resolutely moving and magnificent to those of us far away from the world that inhabits it – and that it inhabits – is testament to the depth of the story and the skill in how it’s told. A gleaming achievement; you can stream it in full below right now.
‘Chrome Halo’ is out now – buy it here