Review: Blouse – Blouse (2011)
Dream pop has been gaining massive momentum lately and one of the newest players to the game, Blouse, was born in the summer of 2010. Charlie Hilton and Patrick Adams began collaborations with Unknown Mortal Orchestra‘s Jacob Portrait in a Portland warehouse and a little over a year later, we are graced with their first self-titled debut record. What separates Blouse from most current dream pop is that they tightly embrace the sounds of some of the early bands that heavily influenced the genre. You can distinctly hear the deep wobbly bass lines and steady swaying beats that are so reminiscent of Cocteau Twins. The dreamy distorted vocals and floating guitar recreate the warm fuzzy feelings of the time you first heard Mazzy Star. This album took me back to time in which dream pop was just beginning and showed me that new artists can push a genre into the future without sacrificing the sounds and emotions that built it.
Blouse began releasing tracks on their own via Bandcamp and had a brief rendezvous with Sub Pop Records before being signed by Brooklyn label, Captured Tracks in March. “Firestarter”, the album’s opening track and one of band’s first two singles is a calm, yet playful track that could easily adorn a John Hughes film. Simplistic vocals melt over upbeat instrumentals, woven together with deep, catchy bass lines.
Swirling guitar and synths blended with super sweet vocals make “Into Black” feel like a teenage romance. This is the track on the album that will force you to move with it’s innocent feel, kissed with just enough of a sultry undertone to make you not want to be dancing alone. I gasped 5 seconds into “Controller” as the band plays with the elements of dark wave, opening the track with a bass line that would put a young Robert Smith directly into his element. This is one of the darker sounding tracks on the album, but the darkness is not overdone. Blouse is great a mixing in just the right amount of light and dark, never taking the listener out of the warm, fantasy-like realm in which dream pop lives. Finally, “White” is a track that stands out to me each time I hear it. It has a gritty sound, with quicker drums and dirtier guitar. There is a hint of early punk that I love. It breaks up the the flow of the album a bit, but nothing about it is unwelcome.
Blouse was released in November and the album, along with the band, are receiving a lot of buzz. The band has admitted to being rushed on the album, which leaves me intrigued to see what they can follow up with when given real studio time. There is also a split single in the works with fellow Captured Tracks band Craft Spells. Blouse is beginning what could be a great journey. It’s refreshing to see bands like them do justice to a genre with such a cult following. They create a love affair between the nostalgic with the new so beautifully, as visualized in their video for “Into Black”.