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Born Blonde - What The Desert Taught You (Album Review)

Tuesday, 05 March 2013 Written by Graeme Marsh
Born Blonde - What The Desert Taught You (Album Review)

First tipped for stardom by the NME in 2011, London-based quintet Born Blonde finally released their debut album in November 2012 following a lengthy fine-tuning process which saw them spend the best part of a year inside the studio.

ImageNumerous comparisons have been made to The Verve, and it is easy to see why – the swirling, psychedelic sounds are here in abundance although only in a much watered down capacity it must be said, with the band often leaning towards a softer, less powerful sound of a similar genre from bands such as The Delays. Indeed, with a tag of ‘hypnotic trippy alt rock’ attached to the band, one expects there to be a little more meat attached to the bones but to these ears, the sound is more ‘pop’ than ‘rock’.

The aptly named 'Solar' was the band’s first track to do the rounds – way back in July 2011 – and this opens proceedings here; a spacey number that overwhelmingly points to the 90’s shoegaze scene, as has already been well documented. This isn’t a bad track at all, far from it, but it isn’t really that memorable or fresh.

'I Just Wanna Be' follows, another half decent effort with fuzzy guitars and a keyboard riff leading the way before lead vocals cut in, courtesy of Arthur Delaney, who remarkably even looks a bit like a young Richard Ashcroft even if he falls short on the sound comparison, which is very unfair as Ashcroft possesses quite possibly one of the best voices in the business. Unfortunately the track suffers the same fate as its predecessor – nice but lacking in substance and a catchy chorus.

The track that conjures up closest similarities with The Verve comes in at number 4 – 'Light On'. This track is clearly a lot stronger than the majority of its companions, primarily because of the much meatier sound which is led by a strong bassline and visible guitaring.

'Radio Bliss' starts off with a Coldplay-like descending piano/ keyboard melody and ticks along nicely with some more spacey effects giving the track an extra dimension; however, the track then starts to revolve in a never ending circle and doesn’t really go anywhere. At times it even sounds so over-baked that there are 2 different tracks being played simultaneously; disappointing because it could have been better.

'Signs of Fear' is another pleasant sounding radio-friendly produced track, 'Other Side' reminds a little of Doves and closing track 'Wide-Eyed' does offer some respite from the norm, taking a step back towards the fuller sound of 'Light On'.

After 42 minutes it’s all over and you are then left wondering what exactly the main focus was when the band spent so long in the studio. Perfecting an appealing and conformist sound seems to be the answer as too many tracks follow a similar pattern. Unfortunately there are no big hitters amongst their arsenal of songs and whilst sounding pleasant enough, the whole offering sounds like an album of, well, album tracks with not much in the way of distinctive choruses.

From all accounts, live performances contain more of a raw edge to them and if the producers had concentrated on recapturing this live energy on record they could have made more of an impression on the buying public. Instead we are left listening to a glossy, highly polished group of songs that has few, if any, highlights and will undoubtedly disappear from personal playlists over time.

The band continue to raise their profile, with a December acoustic session recorded for Absolute Radio being a major feather in their cap but based on this output alone the band could find themselves disappearing all too soon. There is undoubted promise here but they are in need of some top songs; if they manage to find some then they could just turn this promise into something rather big.

'What The Desert Taught You' is available now.

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