Blues Pills release their larger-than-life debut album
It rarely happens these days that a young band tours the world without even having released a full-length album. The American-Swedish-French quartet Blues Pills has just done that. So far the band, formed in 2011, has released 3 EPs: their first ever recording “Bliss” in 2012 and 2 EPs published in 2014, “Devil Man” and the evidence of their energetic live performances “Live At Rockpalast”. Now I hold Blues Pills’ first, self-titled longplayer in my hands and I have to say I haven’t looked forward to a new record as much as I have to this one in a long time. The EPs got me really hooked. So, can Blues Pills reach or exceed my expectation and the anticipation of the wider rock media?
To cut a long story short: yes, they can. Blues Pills’ debut album is the killer album so many expected them to release. Right from the very first notes of the driving bass line and crisp riff of the opener “High Class Woman” the band sets the scene for what is to come: a journey through the last 40 years of modern rock music. Blues Pills playfully combine influences that range from Cream to Led Zeppelin, from Janis Joplin to Deep Purple and from the early Fleetwood Mac to Black Sabbath. What makes this record really outstanding is that Blues Pills do not just relive the past and add different retro-rock elements eclectically. They give their music a distinct sound and texture that is deeply based on the fine musicianship these four youngster bring together. The grooving rhythm section consisting of Gory Berry and Zack Anderson is the foundation for the interstellar soli and riffs of Dorian Sorriaux. You have to go back in time a long way to find another 18-year old guitarist playing with that much soul and energy on his band’s debut album. Stitching together these elements is the amazing and soulful voice of Elin Larsson. Her voice is remarkably outstanding and will be the trademark for Blues Pills in years to come.
The album is full of highlights. These range from the already published “Devil Man” (on the EP of the same name) and “Black Smoke” (from “Live At Rockpalast”) to new songs like “High Class Woman” or “Ain’t No Change”. A couple of songs have undergone a facelift. So is “Jupiter” a new English version of the song “Bliss” formerly with Swedish lyrics. “River” comes with a few new lyric parts as well. If there was one song that you had to explain with what Blues Pills is, it probably would be “River”. It combines soul, blues and rock influences beautifully textured with Elin’s great voice. All the songs shine in a retro yet modern and energetic production of Dan Alsterberg who previously had worked with Graveyard. The whole product is rounded off with the artwork by Marijke Koger-Dunham, derived from one of her original 1960ies paintings.
Blues Pills’ self-titled record has to be the debut album of the year. And Blues Pills themselves have to be the newcomer of the year. It is hard to imagine that there will be any other band topping their first full-length release. Blues Pills will gain a lot of fans in the (retro)rock and hard rock areas. With their soul and blues influences they have the right mix to attract a major mainstream audience as well. We will hear a lot more of this young, dynamic quartet in the future. I am already looking forward to their next album. In the meantime I will push the repeat button and enjoy this truly great piece of music.
9 of 10