If you start with artistic genius Nick Cave and apply a modern-day, punk twist, you might end up at The Blinders. These boys are boundless: heavy, dark, and stormy, exactly like a glass of Guinness; I knew I would be captivated, I just didn’t know how much. Third record Fantasies of A Stay At Home Psychopath is with us on July 17th, as a follow-up to 2018’s revered Columbia from vocalist and guitarist Thomas Haywood, bass guitarist Charlie McGough, and drummer Matthew Neale.
Originally from Doncaster, the alternative rock trio met at school and now reside in the musically spirited Manchester, which is also where their new album was recorded at Eve Studio. Produced by Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey, Anna Calvi), and mixed by Adrian Bushby (Foo Fighters, Muse), you can sense the direction we’re heading in. The themes of the work aren’t to be taken lightly; the aim is to make you sit up, take notice and listen, where they can enlighten you with poetically expressed ideas about existential despair, mental health and society’s ills in a time of planetary crisis; I did tell you…
The first four notes of opener, Something Wicked This Way Comes, sets us up for our moody journey sounding like a metal pipe has been banged in an industrial land of fire and thick, swirling smoke. This repeating beat stays steady, building anticipation, until we reach a mostly instrumental chorus, letting the music do all of the talking. Building intensity and falling deeper into the darkness, single Forty Days and Forty Nights comes into play, with it’s driving rhythm section, where again, it’s full throttle for the chorus: striking.
Like some sort of warped Bugsy Malone musical, debut single Lunatic (With A Loaded Gun) defiantly shouts loud and proud against political and social injustices and being a huge fan of distorted voice, like The Voidz, I’m more than happy to hear it performed throughout the LP. We reach another single in the tuneful and slower-paced Circle Song. This bluesy number admits that they just aren’t getting anywhere fast, and ‘perhaps I flew too close to the light.” It’s tinged with sadness and holds a lush, echoey guitar solo.
I Want Gold, with its brooding bass riff and room-commanding guitar, has a comedic side: “I want to be just like my good friend Bugs Bunny.” After a moment of calm, it crescendos, falls, then ignites again, leading to a thrashy end. Time for a little change of pace as we get to Interlude; this comes as a surprise, bringing with it a poetic intermission. Starting simply with the piano, then spoken word about someone that has revenge on their mind, a stay at home psychopath if you will: “What seems to be missing are the skeletons of the people you do not like.” Latest single, Mule Track, was inspired by the painting of the same name from The Imperial War Museum, and It resides at the classic end of rock. It’s exploring how heaven and hell aren’t so clear-cut, with an ending worthy of a Christopher Nolan classic.
Thomas’ vocal range is shown neatly here for the heavy Rage At The Dying Of The Light, and From Nothing To Abundance displays some favourable backing ‘ahhhs’, it would be good to hear more of this. As we near the end, Black Glass comes along as a cohesive number that almost feels like it is in three parts. What’s invigorating about this song is that it sounds like it’s had a female influence, such as goddess Anna Calvi. Finally acoustic In This Decade closes the show and is nothing like what’s come before. Slow, sweet and soothing topped with folk vibes, it paints a picture and contains such an interesting little line, “For in this decade, there’s no knowing if there’s going to be a tomorrow.” It resonated.
And that is that: enchanting voodoo right there; it’s excellent. Every song as worthy as the last, I had to discuss them all. Of course, the next dream would be to see the band live, and one can only imagine the raw energy you’d experience radiating from the lads. And the crowd, to feel those visceral emotions together, as a collective; surely these are fantasies of stay at home Blinders fans…soon to be reality.
Article by Beverley Knight