Monday, September 7, 2015

Blank Realm - Illegals In Heaven

It takes a peculiar talent to write songs that simultaneously convey excitement, mystery and a hint of darkness, and to perform them with both sublime skill and a rambunctious "first take" level of near chaos.  But if I could pick any band as capable of doing it, that band would be Brisbane's Blank Realm.  And Illegals In Heaven is evidence that I would be right.  Their brand of psychedelic garage rock is widely inclusive of influences, and the band shows no strain in blending them together into their own heady brew.  They are confident lyrically and instrumentally.  Their songs evince honesty and damaged romanticism.  The iron-ribbed rhythms from Daniel and Luke Spencer are are solid as any in the business, while the higher register is filled to capacity by Sarah Spencer's keys and Luke Walsh's guitar.  Daniel and Sarah handle the vocals with conviction and nuance.

What is different from their most recent past album, the excellent Grassed Inn?  To my ears the music on Illegals In Heaven seems designed with a wide scope to fill bigger spaces and make grander statements, while retaining the vitality of the band's highly appreciated live performances.  And perhaps the band has become more adept at adding tender touches to their garage rock sweet spot.  As evidence of the latter point, check out "Gold" below, which is one of my highlights on the album.

In my view, with this album Blank Realm has emerged from the great-little-known-talent territory to one of the best garage bands playing today.  It is great on the first listen, and your appreciation will grow with each of your many replays.  Most likely it is one of my top ten albums for the year, and I highly recommend it.

Blank Realm are siblings Daniel (drums and vocals), Sarah (synths and vocals) and Luke Spencer (bass), and Luke Walsh (guitar).  Illegals In Heaven is out now via Fire Records and, in Australia, Bedroom Suck Records.

Bandcamp for Illegals In Heaven
Fire Records page for album
Bedroom Suck Records page for album

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