Coming across Modern Escapism around the time of its release was, truthfully, very much like love at first sight. This 2021 record by UK rock outfit Blanket had an appeal that checked all the right boxes for me: hooks, heaviness, atmosphere, and an impeccable sound that managed to be equally crisp and enveloping. Even more exciting was the fact that the Blackpool four-piece had already developed a sonic brand this solid of their own just by this third full-length release. Now, we have a teaser for what’s to come in the form of Blue Eyes, the band’s latest EP, and with it they check yet another box for what personally makes great music, and an important one at that – timelessness.
This is not to say that Modern Escapism wasn’t memorable; trust you will find infectious riffs and choruses aplenty. That being said, it’s evident that the album was crafted with a particular genre or a mix of genres in mind (exceptionally well done at that!). With Blue Eyes, however, the band begins to transcend over it and offers a more encompassing look at the musical distances they are capable of reaching towards to accessibility-wise, all without being a detriment to what they have showcased in the past.
Any indication of the above is demonstrated right away with the self-titled track and opener for the EP. The band’s songwriting is much more direct this time, with riffs that pack punches and an overall instrumentation that presents itself more as a unified voice rather than the sum of its parts, all the while retaining the multi-layered production found on Modern Escapism. The chorus further elevates the song with a vocal melody so contagious that it can easily rival with rock anthems from the past decade, all midst a shimmering but equally hard-hitting sonic background that complements it very well. The same can be applied when the band tones it down, as exemplified on “Ghost Note”, a hauntingly-chilling piano alt rock cut that really highlights how soulful their collective performance can be. The use of tension and release is stellar on this one.
Asides from these two songs, Blanket continue demonstrating their compositional prowess with three varying covers. Admittedly, I’m not too keen on cover songs nor EPs, yet I found myself thoroughly enjoying the band’s interpretation of each of these tracks due to their sense of musicality – they have ahold of a perfectly-balanced sense of showing restraint and respect to the original work, while also firing up all cylinders that highlight what they are capable of.
Their cover of Post Malone‘s “I Fall Apart” maintains the emotional heft from its lyrics and mood while simultaneously offering an alternative, crooning version with the same tact presented on “Ghost Note”. Out of the left field then comes an interpretation of Radiohead‘s “Climbing Up the Walls” with a surprising yet absolutely welcoming feature from Palm Reader‘s own Josh Mckeown. A truly fitting combo, given the original’s anxiety-ridden reflections and Mckeown’s usual despondent yet shattering vocal performance. Speaking of shattering, their excellent cover of John Murphy‘s “In the House, In A Heartbeat” off the beloved post-apocalyptic horror film 28 Days Later is a faithful yet expansive rendition of this iconic instrumental, laced throughout with gorgeous orchestration and a vicious attack that certainly does the original piece much justice.
With three covers and two original songs at hand, Blue Eyes is a neat and joyous little treat to kick back and listen to. It also manages to peek into Blanket‘s graceful evolving sound, channeling the band’s recently-exposed ear for ageless songwriting while never holding back their mastery of crafting captivating and layered soundscapes. A worthy successor to Modern Escapism, this EP will satisfy longtime fans and undoubtedly receive newcomers with open arms. One thing is for sure though, and it is that what’s to come from Blanket will not be a worry whatsoever at this point: they definitely have it all figured out.