Thursday, June 14, 2018

Black Bluebirds - Like Blood for Music (2017)

Written by Wendy Owens, posted by blog admin

This is an album that, despite its often distorted texture and unusual vocals, has an infectious quality. Like Blood for Music from the Minneapolis power trio Black Bluebirds is a condensed, yet often epic and expansive, ten song collection packing punch on even the softest numbers. Daniel Fiskum’s vocals dominant the recording, but he’s often accompanied by second vocalist Jessica Rasche to spectacular effect. There’s some uptempo tracks on Like Blood for Music, but many of the songs on the album invoke a deliberate and cinematic air that never strains to make an impact on listeners. Guitarist Simon Husbands and drummer Chad Helmonds form the other two corners of this power trio, but you can’t readily label the band as some derivative outfit hanging onto clich├ęs often going along with that configuration. Instead, Black Bluebirds makes its own path while still relying on great fundamentals.

“Love Kills Slowly” relies a lot on Simon Husbands’ memorable lead guitar to make its most colorful marks and the combination of Fiskum and Rasche’s singing reach a peak of sorts with the very first number. Her voice isn’t used in quite the same way on the album’s second number “Strange Attractor”, but she has an effective presence nonetheless. The comparatively less cluttered arrangement has a sinewy power we don’t hearing in the first song, but nonetheless leaves it mark on listeners. “Life in White” shouldn’t pass people by as its one of the album’s more potentially underrated numbers, but Like Blood for Music takes a successful turn invoking acoustic sounds on an album where we wouldn’t necessarily expect that at this point.

“Battlehammer” is another of Like Blood for Music’s rockier numbers and unreels in such pyrotechnic fashion primarily thanks to Simon Husbands’ guitar pyrotechnics. He’s never a flashy player, however, and each of those moments across the span of Like Blood for Music makes great sense. One of the album’s undisputed high points comes with the song :”House of No More Dreams”. Despite the possibly overwrought implications behind the title, the song never descends into bathos and instead Fiskum’s lyrics give us a glimpse of some underrated poetic chops. The vocal for “Hole in the Day” gives a new spin to the album’s sound so far without ever venturing too far afield of Black Bluebirds’ musical DNA. “Don’t Fall In Love” continues striking the same fatalistic note that’s characterized much of the release from the start and definitely has added emotional firepower thanks to the contributions of second singer Jessica Rasche. The album’s genuine climax comes with the track “My Eyes Were Closed”, but it’s never self conscious and, instead, realizes the band’s cinematic ambitions in a way that solidifies their claim to present excellence while pointing a way towards the future. Black Bluebirds’ Like Blood for Music is definitely entertaining from the first, but gains even more from the added touch of personal statement fueling each of its ten songs.    

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