Blindfold - Faking Dreams
For those of us who found the metamorphosis from OK Computer to Kid A too traumatic, here is the album that should have bridged the gap!
Blindfold hark from Iceland whose most notable exports, Björk and Sigur Rós, are perhaps known for being a bit off the wall and, well, Blindfold bravely follow suit. There is certainly an allegiance here with the latter, but closer alignment with Radiohead's more accessible material. The execution is exemplary though and so the comparison is also valid on a qualitative level.
The set opens with Falleg Depuro, the most commercial outing here, with keyboards driving the melody along, giving it a distinct Coldplay feel, but it hovers neatly below the level of becoming a sickly singalong. On Sad Face, as on Confused, I got a warm memorial rush of Hope Of The States, the latter track standing out, with a splintered musical backdrop, enhancing the power of the vocals, as they drag the whole song to a higher emotional plane. But these analogies only really serve as guidelines on a band that are both accomplished and articulate at what they do, and what they do is write and perform extremely good material!
The diversity is injected by use of clever instrumentation, like the prominence of the staggering drum beats on the title track, landscaping guitars on Caffeine & Sleeping Pills, and a heavily orchestrated, almost operatic, conclusion on Fit You, another track that is given propensity by a strong vocal performance. The song structures are complex, whilst being alluring, and the whole experience becomes almost mesmeric and very difficult to put down.
The closing epic piece is Reverse, one of two instrumental tracks on the album, spanning ten minutes, with the first half a slow eerie intro and neatly displays the musical prowess of the outfit. But, conversely, what it also illustrates is what their sound loses through the absence of the vocals and the powerful impetus that is injected by them elsewhere. That said, they perform as a solid unit and have produced one of the most enjoyable and commendable LPs to arrive on these shores for a long time. There surely must already be a place reserved in Icelandic musical history for them and we should embrace this as a potential international masterpiece, at a time when Radiohead seem intent on continuing a furrow away from the mainstream. This is no sympathetic gesture for bereavement; this is a genuine shaft of light for a potentially dazzling renaissance!