Membran/Up & Down [Release date 20.05.16]
Blue October return with their follow-up to 2003′s ‘Sway’, an album which made my top 5 albums of 2o13. So as you can expect I was looking forward to hearing this one, particularly as singer and main songwriter, Justin Furstenfeld is in a much happier place in his personal world.
‘Home’ takes a few listens to get into and it is mellower, on the whole, than its predecessor. Having Tim Palmer (U2/Pearl Jam/Robert Plant) as co-producer helps enhance the band’s widescreen sound, none more so than on ‘We Know Where You Go’, where you can hear the backing vocals and music so clearly. That is a key feature and strength of the band, their attention to each musical detail be it the laid back groove on ‘Drive’ or the slow electro pop of ‘Break Ground’.
I am not overly taken on the rap based ‘Houston Heights’, however the next song ‘Time Changes Everything’ features a moving vocal by Justin and lush, intricate musical arrangements. A real epic that throws it all in musically and emotionally and one of the album highlights.
The band’s fans will love this album and having already been released in the US, it has debuted at number 1 on the Alternative Albums Chart and number 19 on the Billboard albums chart.
‘Home’ didn’t have the instant impact on me that ‘Sway’ did, however it is a classic ‘grower’ of an album and one that stands up to repeated plays. ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
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