The new wave era brought a lot of women into rock, including some all-female bands. Iceland was no exception, with Grylurnar appearing on the scene for a short-lived run from 1981-83.
It’s a bit hard to get a feel for Grylurnar. Mávastellið certainly has its own style. Some punk, but probably more new wave. It borrows a little from the blues, some from “classic” female doo-wop sounds, surf tunes, maybe a touch of Japanese girl-band sounds, and carries an edge. It’s hard to feel the songs as part of some type of overall theme on the album, with different types of songs and tempos throughout.
I have to admit, when I first picked this up last year I wondered whether or not this really was an all-female band, or some type of all-male gimmick group. Part of it is the way the band members appear on the cover, in extremely heavy makeup. I’m not trying to be snarky here, I just couldn’t tell from this one image if this was legit. Turns out that it was (and is) the real deal.
Of the 11 tracks, six come in shy of three minutes, and two clock in punkish fashion at less than two. The best track may be “Valur Og Jarðaberjamaukið Hans”, which has a sultry lounge sound to it, which actually reminds me a lot of BB & Blake (reviewed previously). The following track, “Betri Er Limur En Limlestir,” has a very HAMesque gothic sound, which is kind of timely with Halloween right around the corner. That being said, I haven’t taken the trouble to burn this to mp3. Grylurnar certainly occupies an important spot in the Icelandic punk/new wave pantheon… but there isn’t a lot here that excites me. It’s interesting, but not necessarily captivating.