But Listen: 150: Blindness – Monsoon EP

Looking back at my various notes and posts about gigs over the years, it’s now the best part of seven years since I first discovered Blindness, thanks to a chance catching of a post by a friend linking to the video for then-single Confessions.

Monsoon EP

Label: self-released
Buy from: Blindness Bandcamp


Review: Wrapped In Plastic
2016: Best Gigs
2015: Best Albums

Now, being a long-time fan of Curve, Garbage and a number of other female-fronted, industrial-and-shoegaze-influenced rock bands, how could I resist?

I was an instant convert. Since then, I’ve dutifully picked up their handful of releases, seen them live sixteen times (up to their final gig last summer), and listened to them a hell of a lot. But that final show seemed to rather leave things unfinished. There were quite a number of songs that they’d been playing live that were never recorded – including two that were among their best songs – and hints that another EP might follow kinda went rather quiet.

Until very recently. The signs that something more might be coming was initially confirmed when The Next Monsoon (one of those regular live tracks) appeared on Saint Marie Records’ Static Waves 5 compilation before Christmas, and then a video dropped for it last week – and finally, an EP was announced.

As a matter of tying up loose ends, this is a great way to do it. Six songs, some brand new, some very familiar indeed, and – crucially – a production and mastering that does justice to the recordings, after their album Wrapped In Plastic was let down at points by exactly this.

The most immediate of the songs by far is Born Liar. It has been in the band’s live sets as long as I’ve been attending (so back to 2011 at least), and I was always a little surprised it didn’t get recorded before. From the moment the omnious synths fade in – and even more so once the dense rhythm rips in – it makes the sonic links to Curve that they have always hinted at explicit. This is a thundering juggernaut that could have been on Cuckoo, and contains a similar, jagged rage to Missing Link.

Another song that had made quite an impression in more recent live sets – often either opening or closing them – is the epic, snarling closer Give Out. Nearly twice the length of most of their songs, it broods and simmers before Beth unleashes all the venom and spite she’s held back in song in one gigantic “fuck you”, and it is also notable for one of the few songs that I remember Beth swearing in, but she certainly makes up for those where she hasn’t here.

The theme of being wronged and trying to move on is certainly something that links the songs here, with the wrenching howl of No One Now (key lines: “oh, leave me for dead / you’re no-one / you’re no-one now“) also hammering a past relationship deep into a box marked ‘done with and to forget’, while The Next Monsoon has a pleasant, almost bluesy acoustic guitar hook that is accompanied by little more than a preset drum machine loop, and sounds rather more stark and spare than many of the band’s other songs – and Beth gives away her love of PJ Harvey in the vocal stylings, too, here…

The other two songs here – both new and, to my knowledge, rarely if ever aired live – show a different side to the band. Head In My Hands is a devastating sketch of a song, little more than Beth’s voice and a piano until an extended guitar-led coda to close it out, laying bare despair in a way that the band often avoided doing in the past. Lessons Learned is full of shimmering guitars, and a feel of resignation in the laid-back vocals and sonics.

But then, this would appear to be the end. Clearly the band weren’t quite done when they played their last show last summer, with this set of songs to record, and this posthumous release rams home just how much potential this band had.

Life goes on, of course, and in a small(er) band the other things you have to worry about (jobs, relationships, etc) must take precedence, and it seems that this was the reason the band ended.

They’ve moved on now, of course. Debbie has been involved in other projects anyway (that I must admit I find difficult to keep track of!), while Beth has been releasing a few demos recently under the name Where We Sleep, which sees her take an interestingly different direction to Blindness – and will certainly be worth watching. Bassist Emma is I’m sure now involved in music elsewhere but I couldn’t find where, while previous bassist Kendra (who was in the band earlier on) is nowadays making a name for herself as part of the very-good Kite Base.

Either way, to end a relatively long period active, this is a fitting epitaph to an exceptional band.

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