Punk Shadows

'Punk Shadows' by Blood and Glass, album review by Owen Maxwell

Our Rating

8.0

Any band that describes their sound with baroque pop and electronic will obviously have a fairly unique sound. Coming into the second full-length by Montreal’s explosive Blood And Glass, the feeling of a raw sonic voice couldn’t be any more distinct. With robotic voices, hard rock, dance elements and a sound that’s constantly exploring itself, sound is definitely pushing this record.

Ambient beats and synths lay the base for a robotic voiceover on the hypnotic opener “Block Of Ice.” As they build the energy to its climax roaring guitars and feedback roar in taking it over, feeling like a reverse of Muse’s “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” that feels natural rather than perverse. Shifting to a more bright sound, the rhythm-driven “Illusion” bursts with life, and pops with strings. The running grooves of its choruses mixed with in the catchy vocals make it a undeniably addictive track that will bore its way into your mind for a while.

There’s a disturbing nature to the sparseness on “Nowheresville” that is amplified by the crashing drums that seem to burst through like a killer in the woods. The gloomy nature of the vocals that go from demented Madonna to a strange Karen O parallel make for a energetic track that rarely lets up. There’s a narrative buried deep in the intro to “Submarine” before the pop side kicks in with aggressive bass push. The bouncing harmonies are like sugar while the string arrangements of the track give an elegant side to its sound, even popping into the baroque-pop for a moment. The harmonies and strings intertwine with the pop more organically however on “Punk Shadows” moving into a more finessed and flowing composition that’s only really hampered by a slightly plodding verse.

The thump to the drums on “Whiskey” is an instantly gripping sound that paves the way for its European-influenced baroque sound, out in full force. While the song pushes on a dark and mysterious dance-pop, the bridge dives right into the off-kilter grandeur with weirdly tuned harpsichord-esque sounds and disturbing harmonies for a standout single for the album. Running with this is the bopping of “Hop The Fence” that goes for big-band intensity on its slowly expanding sound. With the reverb cranked, they bring in all the brass and synth while throwing hook after hook on top of each other for a layered beauty of a track that could march down any parade.

“Chlorine Dreams” goes into a dark and moody spoken-word cloud that matches its title’s foreboding nature. The sound and narrative leave the listener feeling like they’re about to be dropped into a horrific sci-fi nightmare before it ominously cuts off. Going from a dynamic and driving mix of a percussion at the start of “Swimming Pool” the instruments and harmonies instantly switch on the fire that expands through the rest of the song, blaring and growing frantically. The surprisingly haunting and ambient ending leaves a terrifying final glimpse into the abyss that the band seems to have pulled these tracks from as well.

Overall this is an ambitiously abrasive record that never feels like it falls into over-indulgence. Letting their unique ideas drive an explorative pop rather than stand on its own, they find a great middle-ground that pushes the pop into fascinating territory and when they go fully into their more baroque sounds it’s well deserved.

review by Owen Maxwell