The Blackout


Written by: TL on 12/04/2011 14:07:42

With the recent release of their third album "Hope", Welsh sixtet The Blackout enter their eight year of existence, and save for frontman Sean Smith having ditched his trademark emo-fringe, it very soon becomes apparent that what you expect from them is exactly what you get. Because even while "Hope" slides the band slightly from 'party-core' towards 'party-rock', the batch of chorus-oriented and energy-driven tracks it offers, is still merely a refinement of the band's style.

However, if this is the first you ever hear of The Blackout, it seems fair to pause for a while, and explain that their sound is basically a cocktail of elements borrowed from punk, rock'n'roll and post-hardcore, all engineered for minimum style and depth of content and maximum potential fun in a live setting. Singers Sean Smith and Gavin Butler sing harmonies, call/response vocals and clean/scream combos on top of ballsy distorted riffage, and at all times it is clear as crystal which parts are meant to be sung along to by the crowd in the band's live show.

While that all may sound rather shallow and calculated, The Blackout are still a band that it is really hard to hate, because they never pretend to 'need nothing but a good time', and because when it comes to engaging their material with conviction, they lead with flawless example. Combined with a sound understanding of traditional song-structure, this often results in albums jam-packed with songs that all seem to have some merit on close inspection, yet you'll be hard pressed to remember more than a few of them in the long run.

In terms of highs and lows, a song like "Never By Your Side" seems to have the most sweeping chorus, while single "Higher & Higher" embeds itself in your brain via extra groovy riffage, and a guest appearance from rapper Hyro Da Hero that actually works (which is surprising to me, because I tend to think rapping in rock music is a bad idea). Meanwhile, slower and/or sappier offerings like "Hope (Scream It Out Loud)", "You're Not Alone" and "Keep On Moving" are sure to stirr more polarized reactions, as they most clearly exhibit the very limited depth of the band's expression.

In the past, sustained exposure to The Blackout's albums has generally enamoured me so much with them, as to make me, granted, slightly overgrade them - considering how I remember only two or three songs from each of them these days. This time around, I'll be sure to learn from my mistake, and more calmly recommend "Hope" as an "all balls, no brains" type of record that is rock solid listening material, and has a couple of memorable hits to boot.


Download: Never By Your Side, Higher & Higher, No More Waiting
For The Fans Of: Lostprophets, Yashin, Shadows Chasing Ghosts

Release Date 04.04.2011
Cooking Vinyl

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