Thu. Nov 26th, 2020

REVIEW: Blues Pills – Holy Moly!

At a casual glance, it almost seems as if the Swedes were a jovial bunch of natural-born Gladstone Ganders when it comes to ice-hockey or diabolically catchy garage rock, what with bands such as THE HIVES, SPIRITUAL BEGGARS, or the bit more pop-oriented outfits such as ATOMIC SWING, and MANDO DIAO. Indeed, they are a nation blessed with the golden Midas touch in terms of rendering charms that sing in the night. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next big thing to emerge from our beloved neighboring country was an all-star line-up of retired hockey legends assaulting our unsuspecting eardrums with class A rock riffs that turn into instant earworms – under the band name of The Sundins! Then again, the next can of earworms could very well be the upcoming new album, ”Holy Moly,” by the Swedish rock quartet, BLUES PILLS. They’re one of those bands that have carved a career that looks like a success story from a dirty garage to international glory within the time span of a mere couple of years. The band’s eponymous debut album delivered a knock-out blow in 2014 with its delicious array of heavy, psychedelic blues with the single ”High Class Woman,” appointing the band’s vocalist, Elin Larsson, as the queen of gritty soul-vibed garage rock, blending Aretha Franklin and Etta James with vintage-sounding rock grooves. Just 2 years later, the band catered a new feast of hard rock-blues with a good pinch of soul-power, establishing the band in the pantheon of Swedish rock staples with the sophomore studio album, ”Lady in Gold.” With these two magnificent albums, the band set the bar quite high for themselves, let alone for their rivals, to come up with a blues-tinged rock album that would further blow our minds. The new BLUES PILLS album, ”Holy Moly,” is out on 21 August 2020 via Nuclear Blast. So, the question remains: does the album deliver to all the expectations?

There is a certain symmetry that the band’s diehard fans will no doubt find most satisfying. The leading single off the album, ”Proud Woman,” was released earlier this year in March and, quite obviously, its title triggered instant flashbacks of the band’s breakthrough hit from 2014. In all honesty, as powerful a rock-anthem as ”Proud Woman” is, it is not quite up to bar with the impact of ”High Class Woman.” Fans need not fear, however. The new album has more to offer both in terms of gut-punching raw power and spine-chilling emotion. Album tracks such as ”Kiss My Past Goodbye” and ”Bye Bye Birdie” are damn fine songs to conserve the band’s heritage as a driving force in the field of psychedelic blues power. The best way to pull off a ballad – and the only acceptable way, to be honest – is to do it in a vintage soul style and BLUES PILLS masters this art quite beautifully in the tracks ”California” and ”Wish I’d Known.” On the track ”Song From a Mourning Dove,” Larsson almost sounds like the late tormented soul-diva Amy Winehouse here and there.

The rest of the tracks shade quite naturally either toward the raw blues power or soul domains, to varying degrees. When you strip away the layers of heavy blues and psychedelia, it isn’t hard to spot an undercurrent of loss, anger, and sadness flowing through the album. It might just explain for the 4-year silence while pointing out in a rather tangible way that success usually comes at a hefty price. Certainly, it wouldn’t do much harm to reflect upon one’s ways and deeds every once in a while and learn to harness the dark side of one’s soul. ”Holy Moly” is an album that brings our innate darkness into the daylight for it to stop being a fearsome realm, but something for us to explore and eventually conquer – as all great blues and soul records do. Some people say that blues is the devil’s music – if so, the devil’s got all the best tracks!

Written by Jani Lehtinen

Tracklist

  1. Proud Woman
  2. Low Road
  3. Dreaming My Life Away
  4. California
  5. Rhythm In the Blood
  6. Dust
  7. Kiss My Past Goodbye
  8. Wish I’d Known
  9. Bye Bye Birdie
  10. Song From A Mourning Dove
  11. Longest Lasting Friend

Lineup

Elin Larsson – Vocals

Zack Anderson – Guitar

André Kvarnström – Drums

Kristoffer Schander – Bass

Label

Nuclear Blast

Links

www.bluespills.eu/index.php/en/

www.facebook.com/BluesPills/

www.instagram.com/bluespills/?hl=de

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