By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
By Chaz Kangas
By Allison Babka
Blind Eyes shows are good solid entertainment, but if you spend enough time listening to this album through headphones, you might find yourself feeling a little down.
Look Back and Laugh: The Blind Eyes is a workmanlike band, old enough to have worn through rock clichés years ago in previous projects. That makes the group ideological kindred spirits with the Walkmen, the reigning king of kick-ass pragmatism. The comparison can be found musically, too. Porter, who didn't even own a guitar for the recording of Modernity, spent careful hours finding the right tones for With a Bang. "Look Back and Laugh" opens with a hoarse, claustrophobic, very Walkmen-like guitar line.
"I've played guitar since I was fifteen, and I can't figure all of the chords he's playing," Picker says of Porter. "He's doing these weird chords that only someone who plays piano would think of. But it doesn't sound like that — it just sounds like a normal song."
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Here Comes the Dark: With a Bang builds to a looming tension on its penultimate song with discordant melody and nervous lyrics. "Here comes the dark/The pacing is over/This can't go on forever/How long till this is through," goes the chorus.
It's still vague enough for the listener to impose his own meaning. Porter's honesty connects — as Joyce Carol Oates wrote, "The individual voice is the communal voice."
With a Bang isn't just a lyrical improvement over Modernity; there is an overall clarity of vision that carries through each of the twelve tracks on the album. Picker, Porter and Schneider are now more than capable of winning fans who have no personal ties to them. The band opened a Mother's Day show for Ted Leo, who tweeted: "St. Louis, I love you because of how many of you are here at the show and because of how awesome our local bands are..." and then "...I meant YOUR local bands — I didn't mean to stake any claim of ownership! Though if I were a venture capitalist: Blind Eyes!"
Best Times: The most arresting song on the album comes last, bursting out of the uncertainty built over the preceding tracks with oooh-ahhh backing vocals, wide-open guitar and head-bobbing rhythm. Like much of the rest of With a Bang, the title is misleading: "I just hope that someday I'm not saying/That these were all the best times/These were all the best times I had." A little more pessimism to go with your soaring vista of pop magic.
Roll down your windows; summer is here.