Title: All The Sides Of A Circle
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 2nd March 2015
Reviewed By: Ben Chapman
All the Sides of A Circle is an apt title for East London five-piece Bleach Blood's debut album. The band's disregard for and consequently loose mash of genres is multi-faceted and as hard to be precise about as counting a circle's sides, but generally Bleach Blood have served up a slice of mathematically precise dance pi (sic) in a pop-punk pastry. With the best extracts from their catalogue of existing EPs and a wealth of new offerings, the tracks wherein sound out undeniably well crafted, but will be divisive among listeners.
Their dance-punk self-description has a different feel from the muddier electro punk of Death From Above 1979, is instead more upbeat, like the Wombats and Bloc Party hanging out all subdued on synthesisers. Whilst it's unfair to judge the album on the reputation of its collaborators, the articulate lyrical influence from ex-King Blues guitarist Jamie Jazz must have proved helpful, and I couldn't help but be excited when noting Bleach Blood's past input from once-bandmember ex-YourCodeNameIs:Milo guitarist Paul Mullen, whose guitar playing is well used to working more aggressive influences into atmospheric electronic soundscapes.
Opener All The Sides Of A Circle forms more of an intro track, relying on a single build up but sets up the album's aims in one concise punch. The triumphant mini-solo squeals from the guitar are something that I'd have liked to hear more of. The promise continues on second track H.O.P.E, which stands out with its tasty bass tone that leads to the verse's upbeat feel. But a slightly corny chorus with more than a touch of Toto's Africa present creates a sense of unease, albeit dancefloor-suitable, letting down the well-played instrumentation throughout the rest of the tune.
Pleased To Meet You’s probably the album's strongest moment. The optimistic group chanting and mid-range guitar melody's nostalgic Motion City Soundtrack feel provides some welcome sustain before the chorus. The well-produced, radio friendly sound is not so overly mixed that it still carries some weight of distortion. Unfortunately this same formula for some reason loses some of its power in the next track, with London In The Rain's overblown repetition and centre round the chorus coming off slightly lame despite its method of layering the harmonies on thickly. The final chorus is an unnecessary reiteration, an attempt to overplay what would otherwise be some decent riffing and danceable drum beat.
East LDN Dance Party is another tune where the band don't waste time going straight into an anthemic chorus, where despite all the fuss, nothing particularly inspiring happens. The track is rescued by a teasing funk dance groove around the one minute thirty mark. One thing the tune should be credited on is its structure: the ideas are fairly varied, from wrenching indie dance and a section of lo-fi glitch breakdown. Though the tune introduces several ideas, they do sadly lead back to the one fairly samey chorus.
Darling, Don’t Dive Without Me features spacey synth waves and a high pass filter on sections of the vocals aren’t enough to fool the listener here. The couple of intense moments earlier on in the track show promise, with fairly busy bursts of synth melodies and the upbeat bassline creating an energetic new disco. Its briefly interesting musical excursion quickly loses momentum amongst warbling and beeping noises as the tune loses structure. Gladly this isn't always the case. Let Your Heart Sing's attention on the female vocals are welcome and well suited to one of the album's simpler and more effective anthemic outro choruses. Here the synths are prominent but not overwhelming, the guitar and bass' constant hammer create a sense of progress alongside the nodding affirmation of the drum beat.
Anything, Anything plays as one of the catchier tracks, with sweeping dance-accented tight-snared drum beat, powerful dual vocal lines, the snappy guitar strum. The band's vision is more cohesive here than several of the album's other tracks. In Love Is Dead, guitar feedback fades away as it blends into the synth's steady background chord effectively. Vocal cacophony is panned between headphones delicately, the band have gone for a panoramic anthem of grand, poppy post-rock scale which is admittedly pulled off well and will impress existing fans. It's a well placed penultimate track that helps wind down the album. This lulled calm is culled by the instant smash of distorted chords leading into the disarmingly friendly indie bop of Broken Glass. One of the album's highlights, there's a steady speed to the bassline. Nice counterpoint bass during the emphasised strut that marks the entering guitar's chord progression.
A nice attempt to merge genres through ignoring them, the various influences running through Bleach Blood ensure that there's some moments of joy for all listeners, occasionally diluted or distracted from these though they might be. Despite the initially interesting sound, this album is somewhat inconsistent in its enjoyment potential. Whilst I recognise the strong effort and there's some brilliant moments it's not something that will resonate with everyone.