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From Queen and The Police to a Yelp for Help

 Grand National sounds new while emulating the old.
Grand National sounds new while emulating the old.

For fans of the great electro-pop bands of the '80s -- think New Order, et al -- Kicking the National Habit, Grand National's mellow album of orchestral synth-pop, should be a treat. The duo of Rupert Lyddon and Lawrence Rudd started as members of a Police and Queen cover band, and those influences rear their head here. Still, they convert those sounds into one that's both new and familiar, making uplifting music that still feels melancholy.

As pop songs go, "Drink to Moving On" is practically perfect, with a catchy little call throughout: It's an emotional yelp that falls somewhere between a scream and a plaintive cry for help, as a sweet-sounding bass bubbles behind repetitive guitar strumming. It's as if someone keeps yelling sadly into an abyss, while the band plays on.

Grand National calls the song "a cross between New Order's 'Regret' and The Flaming Lips' 'Race for the Prize,' and Sting while he is in a trance." That's not an entirely inapt description, though it sounds as if Sting may be the guy crying out for help.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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John Richards
John Richards is the host and producer of The Morning Show with John on 90.3 FM KEXP Seattle, and online at He is also KEXP's assistant program director.