London up-and-comers Bleach Blood have just announced their debut album, All The Sides Of A Circle, which is set for an early March release. The band was born from the ashes of The King Blues, bandleader Jamie Jazz’s former outfit, whose influences included punk royalty Minor Threat, The Clash, and Black Flag. While Jazz originates from the London punk scene, this new endeavour sees him stepping out of his comfort zone and experimenting with a more electronic and synth driven sound.
Informed by white label dance music, All The Sides Of A Circle sees the band striving to create something unique that, in keeping with a punk mentality, pushes creative and social boundaries. Unfortunately what the band has in ambition, they lack in direction. The resulting album is intriguing, but feels as though Jazz has failed to neatly contain and mediate between his many conflicting ideas.
The title track provides an effective attention-grabbing introduction. At only two minutes long it offers only a brief insight into what All The Sides Of A Circle will have to offer, but instantly demonstrates Bleach Blood’s intention of fusing punk and electro, with a driving synth line running beneath a screeching guitar hook. Jazz’s vocals swell from dramatic spoken word to a high intensity yelled delivery, concluding with the self-assured proclamation, ‘Not even death will be the end of me.’
However the following track, H.O.P.E., lacks the clarity that this title track displayed. The 2013 single doesn’t seem to have retained anything that could be identified as inherently punk. Instead it boasts a folky, anthemic chorus, layers of backing vocals, 80s style synthesizer, and triumphant sounding combination of drums and wailing guitar. More Coldplay than Black Flag, Bleach Blood fail to effectively combine all of these complex layers and the result is rather confusing.
This theme continues with East LDN Dance Party. While it is one of the cleanest sounding songs on the album, it changes so dramatically throughout that this effect is greatly lessened. Like someone flicking a light switch on and off, this track suddenly changes to and fro between synth-driven spoken-word that would be at home in the club scene of 80s Berlin, and more modern high intensity guitar rock. There is ambition here, but much like the album in general, the overall feel of the song is that it lacks direction.
One of the most enjoyable tunes appears towards the end of the album. Darling, Don’t Dive Without Me seems to be the band at their least ambitious, sounding as though they’ve abandoned their inhibitions and chosen to simply have fun, experimenting with new effects and playing with different styles of sound. While it is full of effects, especially on the vocals, it maintains a consistent sound throughout and all in all is a neatly resolved sounding pop song.
For me however, this isn’t enough to redeem the overall album. With All The Sides Of A Circle, Bleach Blood show immense potential and it will be interesting to hear what direction they pursue in any follow-up albums. The skills and ambition the band requires are clearly present, but it may take some further refining for Jazz’s vision of a punk/electro fusion to be fully realised.