Speakers Rating: 90/100
On “Hermetically Sealed,” track number three off The Blind Eyes’ upcoming album, With A Bang, vocalist Seth Porter sings: “I’ve been hermetically sealed/ In a room that’s too cold to feel/ Keep my head down, summer is coming soon…” These lines, intermixed with sun-soaked “bah bah bahs” hailing from the heyday of ’60s pop-rock, say it all. The too-long-dormant Saint Louis trio is gearing up to pop its metaphorical cork in the form of LP2, a twelve track collection of songs quite perfect for the (albeit, rather sudden) transition into summer in the Midwest.
Perhaps the boys sense the perfect timing, too. After all, they start us off with the aptly-named pop-bomb, “With A Bang,” an ideal pick-up from 2009’s Modernity. The thirty-second intro gathers momentum with shimmering guitar and beat-conscious drums but coolly backs off, only to build again into the chorus (finally! – the suspense kills us every time) at the 2:30 mark. The title track doesn’t end without a sublime Kevin Schneider bass solo.
The boys continue to deliver the goods with a trio of single-worthy tracks boasting the band’s signature sound. Porter’s guitar on the catchy-as-hell “The Nature of the Beast” brilliantly alternates between the gas pedal and the brakes against Matt Picker’s furiously driving drums, but this song really had me at one line: “It took me sooo long…” Porter sings it in such a profoundly longing way, it makes my heart hurt. “Hold Down The Fort,” another standout track of the bunch, shows Saint Louis love with a “thanks to all of you who stuck around” and an artful Skinker reference. And, let us just say this about “Into The Breach”: there’s no way your ass won’t move, even if becomes a completely separate entity from your wallflower self, walks on its own to the dance floor, and leaves the rest of you behind to finish your warm PBR. Contagious is not the right adjective; we’re talking viral infections here.
Written by Schneider, “Another Last Night” features the bassist on lead vocals. Like “Find the Time” on Modernity, this track finds the band’s pop-rock rebelliously smoking cigarettes in the garage, and Schneider’s vocals shake it up a bit more, always the necessary ingredient when The Blind Eyes wanna punk a song out.
Even though The Blind Eyes does that “indie-rock meets ’60s pop” thang so very well, With a Bang proves it’s time to let the hem out of those trousers. Growth has been achieved. “All She Wrote,” a Thin Lizzy-esque throwback, finds Porter’s voice grittier than the usual. When he’s not gruffly explicating the woes of a rocky relationship, he’s tiptoeing into his upper register, almost into R&B smooth love jam territory. Boy can sing.
And while I never imagined that the band would drift into the realm of arena rock, “Best Times,” sure makes us envision a sea of lighters slowly waving to and fro. A mid-tempo track, and let’s face it, the “slowest” one on the entire album, “Best Times” says goodbye to the summertime sound that permeates the rest of the album, and Porter wistfully sings, “I just hope that someday I’m not saying/ That these were all the best times/ These were all the best times I had…”
If With A Bang is any indication, we’d be willing to bet that The Blind Eyes have plenty of good times ahead.
Let The Blind Eyes soundtrack your summer filled with good times! The band is celebrating With A Bang with a release show (with special guests the LIVERS and Sleepy Kitty) this Saturday, June 11th at Off Broadway in Saint Louis. Get your tickets HERE, and go on and let ’em know you’re coming HERE. The new album will be available for purchase at the show and soon after at local outlets Vintage Vinyl, Euclid Records, and Apop Records. You can also grab that thing at all the usual places online.