Nuclear Blast – Out Now.
Retro Rock is currently the flavour of choice and no other country in the world has embraced and best represented the sound of 70s Rock than Sweden – the very Scandinavian nation that brought us, amongst others, highly acclaimed bands like Witchcraft and Graveyard.
It’s been two months since a really good friend of mine began praising the laurels of the multinational but Swedish-based quartet Blues Pills and, by accepting to prepare a review for the band’s debut full-length “Blue Pills”, I finally gave myself the opportunity to once and for all find out what all the fuss has been about.
Countless careful spins and many hours later I can finally claim to have seen the light!
You cannot expect to make a name for yourself performing the type of music that made bands like Cream, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin and The Jimi Hendrix Experience famous without featuring in your ranks a strong singer and a technically/emotionally gifted guitar player and I am happy to report that Blues Pills are one of the few bands that have both!
I have read many reviews of past releases comparing Elin Larsson’s voice to that of Janis Joplin and I can certainly attest to the validity of such arguments while Dorian Sorriaux, though only eighteen years of age, performs his six string instrument with the finesse and maturity expected from a guy his Dad’s age.
Based on powerful vocal performances and simple but cleverly-crafted guitar melodies, the attraction one will feel towards the ten compositions on offer will be both instant and undeniable.
Opening with a delightfully sinister bass tune “High Class Woman” finds Elin Larsson stretching her vocal chords to the maximum, thus justifying all associations with legendary chanteuse Janice Joplin quite early on in this album.
Harmony-driven and full of raw energy “Ain’t No Chance” contains one of the catchiest vocal melodies on offer while the groove-laden riff of the follow up “Jupiter” bares testament to Dorian Sorriaux’s infatuation with all things Hendrix.
The young guitarist truly excels himself in the Thin Lizzy inspired twin guitar attack featured in “Black Smoke” while Larsson’s soul inclinations coming across clearly in the fairly moody “River”.
“No Hope Left For Me” continues on a similar music path leaving the flamboyant guitar work in “Devil Man” to infuse the second half of the album with some much needed energy.
Opening with a beautifully Cream-like guitar melody and featuring impassioned vocals and clever keyboard themes operating in the background, “Astralplane” is an outstanding composition that proves the band’s top compositional skills while the three minute “Gypsy” is the band’s last attempt to introduce some energy-driven psychedelic tunes into the proceedings.
The album concludes with another soulful performance by Elin Larsson in the shape of “Little Sun”, another composition providing proof of the great levels of collaboration existing between the powerful singer and her young but technically mature guitarist.
I can almost picture my good friend David giving me a massive “I told you so” speech next time I see him, as I am more than willing to express my appreciation over what can only be described as a truly impressive debut release by a young but very promising band.
With 70s-inspired music still in full swing, I am convinced that you are constantly bombarded by ads proclaiming numerous bands as being the ‘next best thing’ for the genre but I bet you anything you want that most of them would not come anywhere close to comparing with Blues Pills.
Big words, you reckon? Listen to this album and you’ll see what I mean.
Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)
Gig review (18 November 2014)
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 20 September 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 22 September 2020.
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