Review : The Blinders – Columbia

Fiendish melodies and frightening hooks characterise the debut album of Doncaster/Manchester circus-masters The Blinders. Heaps of sugar sourced from early noughties New York, the dark pits of post-punk, and more recent dark-dwelling alternative rock bands support this album on its voyage through sonic oblivion. For years, the edge-lord at the sides of the local sticky-floored venues have begged for a real band with real grit who play real music. The Blinders have summoned their own audible demon to fill that void.

Gotta Get Through ushers in the album at a hundred miles an hour. L’Etat, c’est moi takes us on a vague tour of France. Hate Song reminds me that the power behind quiet/loud/quiet/loud phrases are not lost to the 90s and pathetic 21st century imitations. Without listing each song and breaking it down, which would be boring, it would be much easier to reference the album as a general homogenous glob.

Columbia is an album with a clear concept, it is a politically charged motivational rally. However, the politics are vague, and who exactly the album is motivating is open to interpretation. Throughout the album, I wish the voice of the band would be more explicit, rawer, less hidden in the shadows and more on the nose. Rather, the album consists of cliché-bound refrains and clearly sourced lyrical inspiration from preceding bands. All excitement from seeing Ginsburg in the Facebook influences section soon evaporates. The bombardment of tired references from Huxley to Caesar to Louis XIV of France may evoke a rolling of eyes and philosophically, this album would hardly twist any brains nor turn any heads.

It’s an album trying to be intelligent but ended up with its shirt on back to front. This is the only thing I wish the album did a little better. Rather than hitting the nail on the head, it’s just a hammer relentlessly smashing against wood hoping the woodchips will somehow land and fall in the arrangement of a Mark E. Smith rant. I guess in this politically charged and devisive world I would have preferred more poignant and direct lyrics, aimed directly to fire at those the band would want to hold accountable for societies injustices.

Nonetheless, the more I listen to the album, the more I don’t give a fuck about what is said, and care more about what is meant and what is felt. Hypnotically, the album forces me to get over myself. This album feels fantastic. It sounds fantastic.

The sound that these three produces is outstanding. We don’t need more examples of how massive just three people can sound, but what I need and what I want are two different things. I don’t need anything. I want. And I want The Blinders to soundtrack the scene from my biopic when I got jumped by four hooligans when I was ten.

I digress, like the hooligans, the guitars shatter my eyelids and the grooves are consistently echoed through the structures of my body like a volley of kicks and punches. Not forgetting the stouter piece of the sonic puzzle is the reassuring bass, which never relents.

An outstanding debut, The Blinders have caused an itch with Columbia, an itch I hope they can scratch with a follow up. We sacked off the ratings system a long time ago, but Colombia feels like an Eight from a band who have the potential to deliver a Ten. Far from a classic, but ever so close. Thoroughly enjoyable and a real kick up the ass for the alternative rock scene who should take notes from this excellent piece of work.