REVIEW: Blues Pills: Holy Moly! (Musicalypse Archive)

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There is a group of Swedish rockers known for their retro style, not only for the sound but also by recording at their own studio, offering up an irresistible, trippy ride through the devil’s blues. For all lovers of retro heavy psychedelic rock/blues with big, clean female vocals, if you haven’t already checked out BLUES PILLS, then their latest album, “Holy Moly!” would be a good place to urge on board, as it was recently released on August 21st, 2020, via Nuclear Blast Records.

BLUES PILLLS are approaching their 10 year anniversary soon and, much like most bands with such a tenure, have had a few personnel changes. Vocalist Elin Larsson and guitarist Zack Anderson are the founding members, though Anderson recently switched to guitar, while drummer André Kvarnström now has bassist Kristoffer Schander in his rhythm section.

The new album, “Holy Moly!,” feels like riding a roller-coaster through the troubled mind of a socially conscious soul who is wrestling with their own tormented demons. One that preaches best and with considerable power when it doesn’t try so hard to preach.

The album opener is the single, “Proud Woman,” a simple yet anthemic and powerful song with lyrical content that is desperately needed in this day and age, setting the color and tone of “Holy Moly!” Ripping vocals, some sweet gospels, raunchy and riff-heavy, it’s all driving through the song. After the first song makes its mark, it’s followed up with “Low Road,” another up-tempo rock beast – dynamic, with a couple of busy riffs, and enough meat within the fuzzed-out bass tone to offer bursts of energy. Following with the same energy, the band tricks you into thinking they’re continuing with the same style until the interesting “California” track comes up – a mighty waltz-timed power ballad that pushes the lonesome ache of country-rock to antithetic proportions. “Rhythm in the Blood” starts as though someone is tuning an old radio knob through a variety of stations before it picks up with a flare and a scream. The very stylish drums keep the pace peppy as Larsson‘s deep vocals promise that there’s “a killer on the loose.”

The band knows it ain’t always time for high-speed, so Holy Moly! is interspersed with gentler songs too. “Dust” feels gray and moody, which delivers that similar blues soul and smack heart, only with a good bit of extra grit and energy. “Kiss My Past Goodbye,” with Larsson’s operatic vocal thundering, moves the song towards Valhalla atop a flaming chariot of choral gospel-rock screams, while “Wish I’d Known” sees the band pull into the left lane, stick their feet side by side of the dash, and take a slow cruise down the opposite side of the mountain. Larsson utterly unleashes her stunning vocal cords on this one, teaching us a masterclass on her talents. The touching “Song from a Mourning Dove” is a very gentle ballad that, from the opening tinkle through to its raunchy solo, takes you gently to another world with a dirty guitar sound.

Holy Moly! may feel like a political broadcast, rather than a statement of personal identity with political overtones. However, repeated listens reveal a range of emotions through some versatile and visceral performances, with lyrical honesty. Like a blended whiskey as opposed to a single malt, Holy Moly! makes a strong first impression that deepens with time and gets better with age. Overall this is a killer album, with an excellent spectrum of sounds and a few excellent songs to boot.

Written by Peter Jerman
Musicalypse, 2020
OV: 1624
OS: 8/10

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 Birdy
  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 Records

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