The Blinders – Fantasies Of A Stay At Home Psychopath
Three boys from Doncaster, South Yorkshire who Manchester not only embraced open-armed but were wholeheartedly welcomed into its bussom as one of their own have released the “difficult” second album to the hugely critically acclaimed Columbia. It was an album which brought the masses to their live gigs and pricked peoples attention at festivals not just in and around Manchester but all over the north and beyond, even to that there down south so as a young band, a strong debut like that is going to be a tough act to follow.
There are not many bands that can claim their debut album drew along enough folk to fill the legendary Manchester venue The o2 Ritz but The Blinders along with their friends Cabbage (and the incredible The Ninth Wave) in support filled that hallowed hall for one incredibly hot, sweaty lively night in celebration of that debut and to draw a line under it and let the next chapter unfold.
As we’re moving on now, Johnny Dream, Thomas Heywood the lead singers unmistakable antagonistic painted alter ego is apparently no more, how does the following album shape up? The answer is pretty damn well really, while Columbia was a tour de force assault on the senses from the very start and pretty much all the way right through to its dying bars, Fantasies Of A Stay At Home Psychopath takes a much more mature, considered attack.
With so much going on in the world during its creation, the band have had a huge canvas to draw upon and one that has mostly delivered the goods again, indeed the entire album wouldn’t sound out of place being the soundtrack to a 90’s Tarantino movie done in the 2020s.
Opener Something Wicked This Way Comes is a very familiar fare to a Blinders fan, the ballsy swaying blues ladened stuff fans are used to hearing is present and correct as is track two Forty Days Forty Nights, a song anyone who saw one of their later gigs will already be familiar with.
It’s track three Lunatic With A Loaded Gun that starts showing how their maturity and music crafting has advanced since Columbia, a clear swipe at Trump and his policies, restraint in parts but fiery in others it sums up his madness quite well. Track four Circle Song, the first pre-release from this album released now what seems an age ago due to the album’s Covid-19 delay follows.
I Want Gold is an album highlight despite slightly dodgy lyrics involving a certain big-eared cartoon character, it’s full of the swagger and screaming guitars that fans of the Blinders love about them but it’s showing a level of craftsmanship that the debut album lacked. Track Five, Interlude completely changes the tempo, Tom’s sounding like a softer Ewan McGregor’s Renton from the Trainspotting movies set to a slow jazz beat, unexpected but quite welcome and any listener who was lucky enough to be at last year’s Night At The Museum in Blackburn or the tiny 33 Oldham Street gigs in Manchester will be pleased to see that the softer side of the band has been finally recorded.
Up next comes current release Mule Track, again somewhat familiar style from the band that won’t disappoint fans of Columbia, nor will Rage At The Dying Of The Light, both full of the cocksure swagger the band are known for and it’s a similar story with From Nothing To Abundance but there’s that attention to detail again within this that only experience can bring along with a level of staged production going on that hasn’t been heard from the band before.
Talking of staged production next up is surely the bands West End debut, Black Glass. A track that’s moody and dark, initially it’s sounding like it’s from the highlight of the psychedelic 60″s movement before it kicks into something Fleetwood Mac would be proud of. Having had the luxury to listen to the album over several weeks whilst writing this review, when you wake with a guitar hook earworming away from the moment your eyes open you know you’ve listened to something special, it’s as a fitting closer to an album that could have come from any time or space in the last 60 years.
Except Black Glass isn’t the closer, the closing and final track belongs to In this decade, something that truly sounds like Nick Cave wrote and Bob Dylan sang, a cleverly written and performed folk song, indeed this single track shows not only the years that this band have are well beyond their actual own but that they aren’t afraid to experiment, it’s hard to believe they are as young as they are listening to this song.
So to summarise, is this another angry fighting album like Columbia was? No, not really. There’s a lot that might even disappoint initial fans even tho there’s a familiar theme with the debut in some tracks but this is a much more intelligent approach, it’s still got fire in its belly and there’s still a call to arms that’s really worth listening to. We’re not talking current IDLES levels of political instructions and understanding but there’s a similar ask, it’s just delivered in a much more artistic way, way beyond what you would expect at face value by three young lads from “Donny”. Overall Psychopath is actually quite an impressive advancement, it’s far beyond the levels of their previous debut and further proof that this band aren’t going to be going away anytime soon.