Blonds full-length debut lives up to the hype promised in their self-released ‘Dark Roots’ EP.
2012, Gluck Music
7.4 / 10.0
Blonds, the musician couple of Jordy Asher and Cari Rae, made their sudden debut near the end of last year with an EP, Dark Roots, that suggested there was more to the band than a seemingly innocent appearance (aw shucks, another cute indie music couple). In fact, the EP showed many facets of the duo’s ability as they displayed an impressive versatility in their arrangements and an appreciation for various subgenres of the indie music spectrum – dream pop, retro rock, and even country folk. The Portishead turn on “206” hinted at a dark side behind those gold-dipped locks, and even when slipping a sly, sinister smile, Blonds never sounded uncomfortable. Everything just fit perfectly.
With Blonds’ debut full-length, The Bad Ones, following just months later, the duo continues to make strides in their songwriting, unbound by genre restrictions. Kicking off with the under 2-minute bluesy “Heartstrings”, Cari Rae showcases her voice with a gussied up moxie that brings to mind old-school motown. Jordy Asher jumps in with some don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-them doo-wop backing vocals that antiquate the song further. Just as sudden as listeners’ reintroduction to the band in their newly adopted soul heavy sound, the following song “Amen” reminds listeners just how unpredictable Blonds can be as they completely switch gears. Instead of the upbeat, soulful mélange of “Heartstrings”, “Amen” turns down tempo, injecting intrigue and mystery behind a song best befitting a classic black-and-white film noir.
Even with Blonds’ constant shape-shifting throughout The Bad Ones, it’s easy to pick up on some similar characteristics. The songs often balance gentle temperaments before the choruses introduce swinging mood shifts. “Run” provides the best moment where this happens with Rae’s vocals clashing with the arrangement in the forefront that sounds HUGE. The Bad Ones also seems to offer more insight behind the duo’s influences than Dark Roots. The Beach House-esque “Time” is emotionally affecting with its bell melodies and swirling synthesizers. “Magic” is the most surprising and ear-catching song on the album, beginning with a retro blues vibe – a cha cha from the cymbals – then breaks in with a near cover of Gary Jule’s cover of “Mad World” with “magic” replacing where “mad world” is sung.
The Bad Ones isn’t without its filler. “Falling” is a bit too syrupy on its romance, and while it’s undoubtedly sexy, “Mr. E” is a bit cheesy. “If Only” proves Blonds know how to write gut-wrenching love songs with Cari Rae coming off as a female grim reaper. The painful acoustic melody adds a sting of heartache while she sings, “Only, if only, you knew everything”. Perhaps things could be different, yeah? Well, thankfully Blonds remain as promising as their debut EP suggested, giving listeners plenty of good ones to choose from on The Bad Ones.
Purchase: Blonds – The Bad Ones