A lot of people seem to love the Blakes. KEXP loves ‘em. Light in the Attic loves ‘em. All the people that go to their shows and dance and drink and sing along love them, but I just don’t like the Blakes. Here’s my CD review of their new full-length, it’ll explain everything:
(Light in the Attic)
The Blakes’ new full-length starts out strong: A few fuzzy plucks on a guitar bleed into a sea of distortion, a steady shaker and a deep bass line dance together to make a simple but sexy beat, and the singer snarls complaints about loving an irresistible but impossible woman.
It’s catchy, but it’s been done. And just as the Blakes seem to hate to love the woman in the opening track “Two Times,” I hate to love the Blakes.
The trio has been a blip on Seattle’s radar for years, but their well-worn rock ‘n’ roll didn’t get much attention until the release of their EP Little Whispers, which earned them heavy airplay on KEXP in 2006. In fact, KEXP’s golden boy John Richards was so impressed with the band, he signed on as their comanager earlier this year. Richards continues to play the band on his morning show.
With that added (and potentially controversial) support, the Blakes inked a deal with Light in the Attic, the beloved local label that has built its reputation on uncovering rare gems of years past.
But Light in the Attic’s solid-gold catalog only makes the Blakes’ hollow revivalism all the more glaring. The band aim for classic in both sound and aesthetic—they’ve got the leather jackets, jeans, and moppy hair down to a tee—but musically, they’re insubstantial.
After “Two Times,” the guitar ditches the distortion for a glittery keyboard sound in “Don’t Bother Me.” The bass gets brighter, the drums get lighter, and the lyrics become power-pop poetry. “Magoo” is garage rock with fast twangs of guitar and tambourine, “Modern Man” is a Strokes rip-off (so, a copy of a copy), and “Lint Walk” is the token romantic song with Cure melodies.
The Blakes are good at what they do, but what they do is take cowardly stabs at a number of sounds. It’s sure to appease the mass market—so, love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Blakes probably aren’t going away anytime soon. MEGAN SELING
I feel so much better having said that.
I’m not going to flatter myself and think that my words will keep you from liking them, though, so should they be something you’re into (and let’s be honest, a lot of people are), the band’s playing two shows tonight—the earlier all-ages one is at the Vera Project at 7:30 pm with the Saturday Knights, and the later 21+ show starts around 9:30 pm at the Crocodile.