Album review: The Blinders – Fantasies Of A Stay At Home Psychopath

The Blinders.

The Blinders. - Credit: The Blinders

The Yorkshire outfit sound anything but peaky on their darkly thrilling sophomore record

The Blinders, Fantasies Of A Stay At Home Psychopath (Modern Sky).

The Blinders, Fantasies Of A Stay At Home Psychopath (Modern Sky). - Credit: The Blinders

Following the success of their 2018 debut Columbia, this trio of visceral-rock mavericks spent 16 days in Manchester’s Eve Studios to record an even darker set of songs.

Inspired by Joy Division, The Fall, Hitchcock and Kubrick, frontman Johnny Dream – aka Thomas Haywood – describes the record as “borderline misanthropic”.

He’s not wrong, as the ominous arrangements underline lyrical narratives tackling head-on issues of drug abuse, fractured society, lack of faith in humanity, anxiety, depression and fear.

So far, so Idles. But Fantasies… is a distinctive offering – a little less brutish in its execution, with greater musical breadth but less optimism.

Dream’s distinctive voice has shades of Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner’s dour delivery, and the light throatiness of John Bramwell (I Am Kloot) turned up to 11.

It’s deployed to typically fearsome effect on opening gambit Something Wicked This Way Comes, in which an arresting arrangement of crashing cymbals and ominous guitar licks give bruising presence to its swaggering, arrogant protagonist.

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Forty Days And Forty Nights is a visceral, pulsating account of a relationship’s collapse, frustration and desperation boiling over into murderous animosity, all set to pummelling drums and guitar.

And I Want Gold boasts reverb-heavy, low-slung guitar with top notes glinting in the high-noon sun, like Grinderman holidaying with The Jim Jones Revue in the Wild West. A right-hook to the “one percenters” out for everything they can get, it’s counterpointed by the desperate ragged screams of Rage At The Dying Of The Light, a roiling climate change klaxon.

After a start like this, the towering, twitching and tempo-switching Black Glass is both the album’s creative apex and its epic adieu, Dream rasping: “Sunshine in my bloodstream, I’m a TV star, gonna go far / Gonna make it with Tomorrow and leave it with a scar”. Weighing in at over six minutes, it’s shoo-in for a goosebumps encore (they play the iconic 100 Club in September).

And while the record specialises in rollercoaster tours of humanity’s twilight zone, there is breadth too – from acoustic strummer In This Decade, Dreams coming across like a wizened Richard Ashcroft, through the gentle jazz-lounge, spoken-word Interlude, to the ‘80s pop balladry of Circle Song, which glides on a bed of smooth guitar and handbells.

Chillingly, thrillingly, this Psychopath barely puts a foot wrong.

4/5 stars

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