Review: The Blinders – Electric Kool-Aid (Part 1) EP

The Blinders Electric Kool Aid artwork

Now this is more like it.

After a hugely promising start to their career with the astute, righteous and literary Columbia, The Blinders lost some momentum through a combination of the pandemic and an inferior (but by no means bad) second album in Fantasies Of A Stay At Home Psychopath.

With a fresh new line-up (moving from a three-piece to a five), the Doncaster band have renewed vigour.

The Blinders have thus far operated in their own world, and this EP starts in the same vein; a fading hiss opens the title-track, as if the listener has already missed something.

The band don’t care though, and launch into a succinct piece of clattering garage-psychedelia, and a mantra-esque delivery of the title (as verse) reassures that Tom Hayward is still observing human behaviour from afar, with cynicism. The Kool-Aid is seemingly addictive as the political and societal chaos continues unabated, even after more than half a decade.

The snappy drums are sustained for the dramatic Barefoot Across Your Water. Swooning yet aggressive, the song is an immediately noticeable step-up in confidence and, accordingly, songwriting. The rumbling bass and the sympathetic piano add polish to Hayward’s mandatory passionate vocals, and the whole feel of the track echoes Echo & The Bunnymen, which seems to have been an influence based on their recent cover of The Killing Moon.

City We Call Love was released as a single late last year and, complete with jerky power chords, signified a change in direction but, taken in isolation, it lacked power when compared to its placing on the EP. The synths (the bastards, how dare they?) garnish the song well, but the melody alone makes it stand apart.

The Writer is an older track (in their 2019 setlist) and it shows, with its trippy fairground keys a kiss to their former selves. Yet it’s even more boisterous than it once was, without losing any of its haunting tones or breathless ferocity, and those drums just keep getting bigger.

Speaking of getting bigger, closer Hate To See You Tortured starts elegantly (albeit driven by those drums – did we mention how large they are?) but ends with a gargantuan, anthemic indie chorus which stays long in the head. With a pace (and chord sequence) aping off Arcade Fire’s 2010 classic Ready To Start, it’s a crying shame when it’s curtailed at nearly four minutes.

This collection of songs is much more rounded than recent offerings from The Blinders, if a bit more generic. However, creativity means little if there’s no development, and the band have significantly upped their game whilst still venting their political frustrations.

After a slight diversion, The Electric Kool-Aid EP (Part 1) points once again to a promising future (if only for them and not us).

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