|Illegals in Heaven (September 4, 2015)|
Blank Realm — Illegals in Heaven (September 4, 2015)♣•♦ Kdo sakra nechce nějaké písničky, které odpálily sluchátka a inspirovali improvizované taneční jamy? Já! A kdo sakra by nechtěl věřit ve skupinu ambiciózních lidí, která by mohla sjednotit kolegy podivíny? Hele, když jsem pravidelně na výletech za hudbou, kapely vždy překrývají mé grafy nejčastěji přehrávaných tracků — ne proto, že jsem se vědomě vyhnul sólovým umělcům, ale proto, že jsem miloval koncept kapely jako skupiny stejně smýšlejících lidí, bojujících jako jeden muž proti zbytku tupého světa.
♣•♦ Hailing from Brisbane, Blank Realm consists of three siblings, Daniel, Luke and Sarah Spencer, and Luke Walsh. Renowned for their ecstatic live performances and boundary–pushing, yet listenable records, the group have released several sold out recordings on labels including Not Not Fun, Digitialis, Albert's Basement and MusicYourMindWillLoveYou.
♣•♦ “Blank Realm’s music has always sparkled: not with polish but as if thickly glazed in syrup, all the sharper edges pressed and smudged. Whole ensembles worth of technicolour driftwood linger just beneath the surface, hidden from cursory ears, like a phantom song keeping time in the shadows.” — Shaun Prescott, Mess & Noise
Location: Brisbane, Queensland, AustraliaAlbum release: September 4, 2015
Record Label: Bedroom Suck Records/Fire Records
01. No Views 3:46
02. River of Longing 4:11
03. Cruel Night 5:33
04. Costume Drama 3:35
05. Dream Date 2:52
06. Flowers in Mind 5:57
07. Gold 5:09
08. Palace of Love 4:42
09. Too Late Now 6:03
♣•♦ Blank Realm's transformation across the Australian mystic from sprawling spaced out psychotic punk blues, through the startling maverick pop psychedelia of 'Go Easy' to the widely acclaimed 'Grassed Inn', continues in its unrelenting quest for that quintessential synergy of chiming pop anthems.
♣•♦ Hook–laden throughout they unleash their wild yet tender new album 'Illegals In Heaven' which offers up freaked out reflections on life, love and circumstance. As knowing as the Chills or the Pretenders, loner ballads are as gnarled and world weary as Dylan in a cacophony as bruised as Royal Trux yet with the playfulness of Half Japanese.
♣•♦ Recorded and produced with Lawrence English (head of the Room40 label) on a late night at The Plutonium studio in Brisbane, the album sees them on their first foray into a recording studio. While it wasn't exactly Abbey Road, it truly captures the chaos and majesty of the band's formidable live shows.
♣•♦ It would be all too easy to say that 'Illegals In Heaven' is their finest work to date, but the simple truth is that Blank Realm have been without peers for a trilogy of albums, so it just might be as Sarah huskily intones, "Gold" too. ~ Fire RecordsREVIEW
Andrew Stafford, Thursday 3 September 2015 23.42 BST; Score: ****
♣•♦ There’s a moment in every great band’s career where they shrug off their formative influences and assume their ultimate form. Blank Realm — that brilliantly erratic Brisbane quartet made up of three siblings and a “spiritual brother” — have long been the sum of their parts: a sound drawn from krautrock, New York’s no wave, New Zealand’s entire Flying Nun roster, and those closer to home, like the Go–Betweens.
♣•♦ Illegals in Heaven, though, is their definitive statement, the album no one other than Blank Realm could have made. It’s taken them a decade to reach this point, where their rough beginnings have been sculpted into a perfect marriage of pop, art and noise. If there’s a comparison to be made here, it’s with Sonic Youth, circa that band’s masterpiece Daydream Nation.
♣•♦ This is the band’s fifth album (not including the numerous, now impossible to find cassette recordings and CDRs from their formative years), and the first proper studio outing for this determinedly lo–fi band. Sonically speaking it’s not an obvious leap — Blank Realm still sound thin and trebly, the mix a dogfight between Luke Walsh’s guitar and Sarah Spencer’s keyboards.
♣•♦ At times, the sound is practically bottomless. Drums and bass become all but irrelevant in the final passages of River of Longing, Flowers In Mind and obvious single Palace of Love. It doesn’t matter. These are breathlessly exciting songs, with tightly wound melodies that explode into unforgettable choruses and instrumental passages that see the band playing to the limit of their capacity.
♣•♦ Blank Realm have always been capable of moments of translucent beauty, the dizzying high points of previous albums obscuring the weaker moments. Illegals in Heaven, though, is both varied and consistent. For every bug–eyed monster like No Views — a whooshing slice of comet–rock that opens the album as if it’s been shot from a cannon — there’s a quiet, meditative counterpoint like Dream Date.
♣•♦ There’s a confidence here, too, that is reflective of a band on top of its game. Listening to Daniel Spencer belt out the lyrics to No Views (“I’ve been spitting blood in the dirt, baby, I’m tired but I’m ready to fight”) — is exhilarating, his earlier tremulous yelp replaced by something desperate and crazed. Sarah Spencer gets a turn behind the mic, too, singing lead on the shimmering ballad Gold.
♣•♦ There haven’t been many singing drummers in rock’n’roll. Spencer is akin to Husker Du’s Grant Hart, a punk–pop craftsman with a serious romantic streak. On Cruel Night, he comes over like a drunk Lee Hazlewood backed by Spiritualized; on Flowers in Mind — the album’s centrepiece — he’s the wide–eyed dreamer: “You can waste a day or waste your whole life / chasing fragments of dreams out in the night.”
♣•♦ At the opposite extreme is Palace of Love: “I’ve been feeding the sharks, been diving down in the writhing dark / I’ve been listening to you, scramble my head like a Rubik’s cube.” In another place and time, this thrilling track — played at Ramones pace, but over five minutes — would be a massive hit; as it is, it’s the one that confirms Blank Realm’s arrival at the top of the noise–pop tree.
♣•♦ For most bands, a record like Illegals in Heaven would be a career full stop. For Blank Realm, who have been developing at a dizzying pace since their 2012 breakthrough Go Easy, it’s the beginning of a new chapter of an already impressive story. If there’s a missing star on this album, it’s only reflective of what they could possibly achieve next, having found the sound they’ve spent a decade searching for.
POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 2, 2015 BY RYANSAAR: ALBUM OF THE WEEK
By Lee Adcock, September 4th, 2015; Score: 9
BY CHRIS GIRDLER; SCORE: ****
By Nicholas Kennedy, 31 August, 2015
|Illegals in Heaven (September 4, 2015)|