Frightening youth and vigour reinvigorate the blues
Blues Pills – remember the name (if you don’t already know it) - a multinational quartet of American-Swedish-French, yet coming together with the common aim of bringing their brand of blues rock back into fashion. Preceded by a long line of names etched in history who have taken the form to new heights, their youth and vigour is quite frightening. They’re disturbingly young; all in their early twenties and with guitarist Dorrian Sorriaux weighing in at just 18, it feels like they need to be ID’d before they start making the sort of sounds which make up their debut album. Add to that a look which visually celebrates their vibrant sonic concoction, they bring back the days of merging experimental blues with rock, all dusted off with Elin Larsson’s emotively soulful delivery yet with a contemporary and immediately accessible edge. Those in the know may note a couple of tracks which first appeared on last years Devil Man EP (Devil Man itself and The River) or the Live At Rockpalast EP which came out earlier this year (the erm, smoking version of Black Smoke this time getting the studio treatment) but there’s plenty crisp new material to celebrate. For a short moment at the start of The River you feel you might be listening to Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac circa Albatross, the chords evolving in a wash of sound before the whole band kick in while Elin sings of washing dirt from the treasure. There are other tender moments alongside this one: No Hope Left For Me and album closer Little Sun have their flashes of laid back reflection where the band take things down from the excitingly high octane opening salvo.
"The economy of the songwriting is a feature of this record – nowhere do they go overboard, indulged in needless instrumental showcasing all in the name of the blues."
It’s easy to get excited over the opening express train of High Class Woman and the rumbling intro to Ain’t No Change before Dorian delivers one of his finest performances on the record when he steps on the wah wah during the intense four minutes which is Jupiter. In fact, the economy of the songwriting is a feature of this record – nowhere do they go overboard, indulged in needless instrumental showcasing all in the name of the blues. The only times they do chart those waters, you’re never far away from an outburst of a three piece instrumental charge to change the pace and accelerate into abandon. Some might spout on poetically and at length about the band, how about ‘timeless and soul touching’ for starters, yet there’s not a lot really to say about Blues Pills apart from the advice to cut to the chase and just listen. They’re certainly causing a stir without professing to be anything new or startlingly original, but for sure they have a fresh take on delivering a different picture within the same framework used by those bands led by the likes of Rivals Sons which seems to be gaining ever such a lot of momentum. No frills, unadulterated and honest, and proof, if it were ever needed, for the old maxim “if it ain’t broken why fix it?” Words: Mike Ainscoe