Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
In this age of everything being digital and ‘the faster the better’, it’s great to herald the return of analogue as the warmth of vinyl and the tactile delights of books makes a huge resurgence.
If ever there was a band to capture this zeitgeist it’s Blues Pills, the Swedish / American four piece having found the naturalness of stripping things down and recording in their own studio coming up aces with this, their latest album.
With the use of just enough technology to fire up the amps and hit the ‘record’ button, ‘Holy Moly’ is a primal beast that highlights their penchant for heavy blues psychedelia that has more than a little five-mile-deep soul.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HekZW4Pbg_I&w=560&h=315]
‘Proud Woman’ opens the show and it couldn’t be more of a statement of intent, singer Elin Larsson leading the charge as the track swaggers in all its defiant, bold and ballsy glory.
Packed with all the early 70’s fuzzed up funk and lo-fi feel, this is the sound of a band 100% sure of what they’re doing and the retro rough edges brings to mind some of the unfiltered fire of bands like MC5.
Things get heavier with the dynamite rocker ‘Low Road’, a truly explosive brew that is blisteringly raw as it’s propelled by the machine gun rattle of the drums and following that, ‘Dreaming My Life Away’ is equally wild and untamed as it threatens to set speakers ablaze.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoJKv-vNZIY&w=560&h=315]
If that wasn’t enough wild revelry, ‘California’ takes things to another level entirely. Starting off chilled, it soon picks up and Larsson given an absolute powerhouse vocal performance, full of heart and a reach that goes stratospheric, as guitarist Zack Anderson lays down suitably delicious licks.
While the overall feel is primal, there’s certainly a lot of light and shade in the material as ‘Rhythm in the Blood’ snaps and snarls with a visceral and feral feel yet the band are able to next switch to the sensual and soulful blues stomp of ‘Dust’ and then onto the wonderful baggy Indie, kinky afro stylings of ‘Kiss the Past Goodbye’.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nC4VQpX0rSY&w=560&h=315]
The crystalline beauty of ‘Wish I’d Known’ lays bare emotion that sways in a gentle, gospel tinged heat that is part Louisiana night and part Parisian cool, the soundtrack to a thousand broken hearts.
This tapping into the core of humanity, be it the in the tender or the base urge to fight to survive, is something the band has mastered over the course of their trio of albums and with a sterling self-production job on this latest release they’ve shown they are truly masters of their own destiny.
‘Bye Bye Birdie’ is a throbbing and propulsive track that tears along like an out of control dragster, eventually exploding into a chaotic flurry of feedback, the band giving no quarter.
The opening cool salve of ‘Song For the Mourning Dove’ blindsides you into thinking peace has been restored into its otherworldly embrace before it launches in some perfectly sculpted bombast that, in some places, echoes Queen at their most unrestrained.
The album closes with the intimate whisper and a sigh of ‘Long Lasting Friend’, the vocals once more shimmering with delicacy and steely strength as they float and swoop over a gently picked guitar.
Old souls in young bodies, Blues Pills seemed to have distilled some of the best music of the past fifty years, given their own spin to things and produced an album that is both fresh and timeless.
There’s absolutely no pretense with them, what you see is what you get and with ‘Holy Moly’ they’ve tapped into a vein of solid gold that will resonate with everyone whose heart has been filled with a love of music. Album number three shows, without any shadow of a doubt, that they’re an unstoppable force.