I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there is definitely something retro in the air at the moment. Forget the Glastonbury attending NME trendoids who think “Old School” means something from the late nineties, there seems to be a big hard rock revival that pays homage to the late sixties and early seventies rock scene, an era before extensive electronic engineering and autotune, where musicians had to rely on ability rather then a computer to have an impact. And if ability leads to success, Blues Pills can expect to be buying their own modern version of Led Zeppelin’s Starship luxury jet soon.
Singer Elin Larsson’s vocal’s blast out with an intensity I’ve not heard since Janis Joplin’s Big Brother and the Holding Company, her impassioned wail on ‘Devil Man’ setting the whole retro tone for the EP, her power being matched by the Hendrix like guitar solos and hard rock bass and drums of this Swedish/American/French band. Blues mixes seamlessly with pyschedelia in ‘The River’, another song that could be as old as your humble scribe, rather than brand new to this year, the slide guitar work sounding like it has walked from a Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd recording session rather than being a product of this decade.
The influence of early Sabbath, Hendrix, Free, and Deep Purple is clear and obvious, with the mixture of hard rock and blues giving each of the EP’s four tracks a timeless sound. Without wanting to take anything away from the obvious abilities of the band’s two guitarists, bassist, and drummer, what lifts Blues Pills to a new level is the stunning vocals of Elin Larsson. There are far too few female vocalists in hard rock and metal, but she is exceptional. Imagine if Paul Rogers had two X chromosomes instead of X and Y, and you’ll start to understand her power and range.
Just the other day my editor was bemoaning how many high scores are being awarded on Ave Noctum, but this EP thoroughly deserves its rating. The only thing stopping it scoring higher? I want more! The band has a single UK date listed in London on November 3rd, with Orchid and Scorpion Child, both other bands being masters of retro hard rock. I’ll be doing my damnable best to be there, and have a feeling with the ace card that is Larsson, Blues Pills may well steal the show.
(9/10 – Spenny)