25th July 2014
There has been a buzz around Blues Pills for the past few months, with the quartet's vintage blues-rock sound impressing audiences in Europe and Australia and the EP 'Devil Woman' providing a tempting appetiser to this debut album and a hope that the quality would continue.
Huge sigh of relief – it's great. There is still a good chunk of summer left and this is just the right type of music for hot weather – it has that powerful haze, that deep moody intensity that matches perfectly with the heat. Hendrix has this quality too, as do The Doors and early Fleetwood Mac.
You can hear the roll-call of all the greats from the late 60s in their influence on this album, yet it doesn't feel ripped-off or lacking in originality as the songs and performances are so good.
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It's a bit like a great burger. When it's made with quality ingredients and flawlessly cooked, served with perfect crisp salad, cheese at just the right melting point, golden toasted bun, and washed down with a cold German beer you are not going to complain that it's not innovative, you are just going to marvel at the taste, appreciate the craft behind it and enjoy every bite.
So it is here. It's a feast of great music that will transport you back to vintage rock times but it's very much an album for the present. There is no Hammond or other keyboards, the guitars hold the space and provide all the textures you need.
Thematically it's all about returning home, leaving the darkness and going into the light, an exploration of emotions. The songs are compelling and this band play with command over their personal realm.
Vocalist Elin Larsson's jazzy tone is equally at home crooning or belting. Guitars from the eighteen year old Dorian Sorriaux are powerful, mature, and spell-binding. The rhythm section is powerful and driving, just as it ought to be.
'Blues Pills' is a very strong debut, not a filler track among the ten and some real stand-outs. 'Astralplane' soars, is transcendent. 'No Hope Left For Me' may appear sorrowful but it asserts itself with a note of defiance. 'Gypsy', the Chubby Checker track, is given the Blues Pills treatment to great effect. The tempo change in 'Black Smoke' is stirring and potent.
The music comes in a great package too – the artwork by Marijke Koger-Dunham was originally painted sometime in the late 60's and is stunning. There is also an exclusive limited edition digipak available directly from Nuclear Blast which contains a bonus live DVD and additional artwork.
It's 43 minutes of pure pleasure.
1. High Class Woman
2. Ain't No Change
4. Black Smoke
6. No Hope Left For Me
7. Devil Man
10. Little Sun
Elin Larsson - vocals
Dorian Sorriaux - guitars
Zack Anderson - bass
Cory Berry - drums