Ahead of his North American tour, David “College” Grellier has released Save The Day, a gem of an EP centered on the vibe of 1980s stalker films. Unlike most of his earlier work, including “A Real Hero,” his 2011 collaboration with Electric Youth that was one of the centerpieces of the film Drive, this is a collection teeming with dark textures that try but fail to suppress all shred of hope.
Listening to the first three instrumental tracks, “Old Maps,” “The Gathering,” and “Numbers” is like running through pitch-black alleyways, encountering only the occasional glimmer of a neon-red sign from some, probably seedy, establishment where a rageful stalker awaits. The arpeggiated bass, wash of fuzzy synthesizers, shimmering and bubbly pads and the thumping and danceable drum machines serve to control the pace of the hunt: Sometimes it seems as if it is OK to slow down and take a breath, and in the other cases the only smart option is to RUN.
The highlight is the title track, fronted with the gorgeous and deceptively delicate vocals of Brooklyn-based singer Nola Wren, who will sing the song with College at the Nov. 28 show at the Highline Ballroom in New York. This song offers up a resolution to all that running through those scuzzy streets: There’s hope, some happy chords, and a slow build that reinforce College’s talent as a premiere purveyor of end-credit soundtracks for film.
When Wren sings “I got you” and assures the listener, “Don’t be afraid/I’ll save the day,” it’s kind of a beautiful twist. Throughout this it would seem it’s some skeezy male stalker salivating over a female prey — as is so often the case in those Reagan-era films — but this time it’s Wren who’s here to save the day. But she’s not only here to save someone from a predator, she’s here to save us from ourselves.
For tour dates, check out College’s Facebook page. His first show is Nov. 26 in Washington, D.C. Buy the EP on iTunes or listen to it on Spotify before you head to a show.
(Cover art by Alexander Burkart.)