Review by Mickey Nicholas.
Hailing from Blackpool, Lancashire, shiny new four-piece blanket emerge into the purview of the musically inclined with their new LP Our Brief Encounters.
Ambient, atmospheric, weird. All these can tidily sum-up the five-track LP, and can tidily sum up each track. It would be wise not to interpret this as meaning it’s a bad LP, far from it. It’s a marvellously organic-feeling attempt at a kind of post-rock interpretation.
There’s a sense of scale, something big and grand underpinned by themes of human intimacy running through Our Brief Encounters. The whole thing feels like it’s trying to tell a story about human interaction in the form of a film soundtrack, if the whole film was the soundtrack.
Like all stories, you have to set the scene- establish the general tone of the narrative. The first song on the LP, Acacia, does exactly this- an atmospheric intro intertwined with a little piano, which forms the heart of the whole track as haunting guitar echoes over the top, gradually building, layering sounds onto each other into a coalescing crescendo, before delicately falling away, piece by piece.
The second song, Tethered, starts with ambient sounds that rise and fall, layered with gentle guitar and a section of dialogue taken from the 2003 Sofia Coppola film Lost in Translation. It took me a little while to figure out where I knew it from, but the interaction between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson’s characters kind of sums up what the whole film is about. The guitars build and sweep, the drums filling the background like a heartbeat.
Track three, Discoveries and Beginnings, opens with male and female vocals in harmony, cutting quickly to soft guitar that grows to fill the whole song, the same hook repeating, a little faster, a little louder. It’s the kind of song you’d expect to be included in a documentary about the environment as seen from space.
Starlight Filled Our Minds has it’s own music video, (below)! It starts big, vocals and guitars harmonising into a multi-layered choral sound. Gradually, gentle vocals come in, and the guitars rise up and fall away into a powerful piano hook. The whole song explodes around the three minute mark, every component crashing together harmoniously before the guitar steps up to the front to lead almost until the end of the song, before suddenly cutting away back to the starting harmonies, book-ending the track.
To the Skies comes in bright and loud with echoed piano and upbeat drums flashing in like sunlight through clouds. A guitar hook slips in, simple but effective, slowing the tempo a touch before picking it back up again with the drums in tow. The instruments slip away, the vocals come in, and the song layers up again into a grand sweep of sound, heavy guitar over soft piano and crashing drums rising and falling like waves.
blanket‘s debut album, Our Brief Encounters, is released on February 10th and is available for pre-order right now.
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