In the gruesome album trailer for John Grant’s latest album, Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, the 47-year-old grins maniacally, face caked in blood, mallet in hand, then gazes ominously into space. The images give a taste of the savage and satirical tone of his latest album; but, as with all Grant’s creations, great beauty comes with the brutality and morbidity.
The album is also full of Grant’s deeply personal narrative and dark humour: “grey tickles” is a literal translation of the Icelandic for midlife crisis; “black pressure” translates the Turkish for nightmare. Inspired by a love affair with his adopted home, Iceland, and its native tongue, in which he speaks on much of the album, the singer has found a retreat in the country’s otherworldly landscape. “I was in fight-or-flight response my whole life, with adrenaline fatigue, PTSD – there was no safety ever,” he says. “I feel safe here. It’s a cautious optimism connected to that feeling of security.