By Liza Jill Meyers of Indie Band Guru
If you were craving a classic cross-genre ‘80s revival, which I can personally say I have been hungering for, then Bootblacks will bring you back with their newest album Veins. And I am psyched!
From first song till last, Bootblacks invents a parallel world, a contemporary past, bridging the ‘80s to the 21st century.
Bootblacks Bring Back the ’80s
When “Colorblind” begins and the vocals set in, the familiarity of the deep sultry vocals — perfectly matched for the chilling guitar, booming percussion, and the precise notes of the synth — grabs you. The second song, “Southpole,” has the cool quality of synthpop — syncopated drums, echoing vocals, and seesawing arrangement — the timbre of a hallucinated flashback.
The commanding drums, symphony feel, and stadium sound of “Past Lives” along with those radiation riffs in “Drift,” like a brain-melting daze or a heartbeat pulsing, catapults you into the past.
Still, what is more stirring about Veins, and Bootblacks as a band is that underneath the New Wave vibrations and Post-Punk phrasings lives layers of other epochs.
“Always” is the fifth song on the album, and the aura of the song captures a whole other mood within the same world. At first, the more upbeat “Always” sounded to me like a song featured on the Weekend At Bernie’s soundtrack.
Listening again, however, I heard the Dick Dale late 50s/early 60s surf rock influences. The effect of the feedback from the guitar, juxtaposing the summer waves of the guitar strums is the first haze of the suspension between eras.
The seventh song, “Sub Rosa,” is effervescent. The repetition of the lyrics and percussion, and the nod to the waves of surf rock, wrap you in a circular trance beat; a sort-of Twilight Zone spinning spiral theme, fading out like white noise on a TV or a radio taking too long for the static to dissipate.
Later on, on the album, “ABC Anxiety” highlights Bootblacks’ punk roots, mixing that urgent underground energy with happy-go-lucky synth and psychedelic reverberation in the background. And layered above the music, the vocals twine in a tinge of the infamous Elvis hiccups with that preexisting brooding and distilled Morrissey-quality.
The penultimate song, “Low Fantasy,” with tones a la the late David Bowie and ‘90s alternative rock, and that consistent undertow of New Wave rhythms, wraps the multilayered time machine of the album together perfectly.
Like one long song, Veins is a cohesive piece — a requiem, with stages and parts and intricacies; or maybe like a Pink Floyd album, linear (and doesn’t the cover art resemble Pink Floyd’s own cover art for Meddle?). “Sub Rosa” knocks on that door, the front cover of Veins, with that peeling paint: “suffocating beneath the paint, beneath the paint. The sound, the sound, the sound…”
The unique ability of Veins to range in character creates a distinct time and style, but one that is all Bootblacks’ own. But I could not sum Veins up any better than the Brooklyn band did themselves a line from “Low Fantasy” that resonated with me the most:
“The future is behind.”
Veins is out today from Manic Depression Records.