REVIEW: BLUES PILLS – LADY IN GOLD (2016)

If they weren’t one of your favourite new bands already they will be now

When Blues Pills emerged onto the scene, almost from nowhere, a couple of years ago, and in so doing became one of the hippest names to drop, they gave themselves a weight of expectation that doesn’t happen to other bands in their infancy.

The thing was, it was almost their own fault for being that good.

If you saw them live on their frequent jaunts to the UK, then the chances are you’ll have experienced the same thing that MV did when they supported label mates Scorpion Child. Elin Larsson strode to the mic and proceeded to sing like a cross between Janis Joplin and an Angel, and the music behind  her – supplied by the same international cast this time, save for new drummer André Kvarnström – concocted something that owed as much psycedelica and soul as it does to classic rock.

They promptly blew(s) everyone away. A feat they continued to manage for the next couple of years, before disappearing into the studio to make studio album number two (there was a live stopgap in-between). The results, you’ll be glad to know, are little short of stunning.

Bar the odd small tweak here and there, the mantra for “Lady In Gold” is essentially this: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but if it worked before just make it better.

There’s much here to simply fall in love with, not least the soulful shake of the title track, which begins with a funky piano riff vying with Larsson for attention and soon breaks out into a chorus to kill for.

That’s far from the only one, though. Hell, its not even the best song here. “Little Boy Preacher” probably is. Part Motown, part rock n roll and as sassy as you like, it might actually be the best thing they’ve ever done, before the bluesy “Burned Out” slows the pace slightly.

BS – and there is very little of that on show – seem to be a band totally at ease with their sound, and the gorgeous “I Felt A Change” is stripped down and laid back, with the pulsing “Gone So Long” acting as its counterbalance and sounding a little like Purson as it does its work.

“Bad Talkers” is an anthem of defiance, while “You Gotta Try” is dark and bluesy, and “Won’t Go Back” is a stark reminder that if you get on the wrong side of Erin, then you probably will lose – frankly if MV was the bloke she’s singing about when she sneers “I ain’t giving you nothing/I just hope you’re suffering, then to be honest we’d probably give up…..

“Rejection” is another from the more soulful end of things, but the record closes with the urgency of “Elements and Things” and with an energy that suggests that Blues Pills could probably do anything they fancied and make it sound wonderful.

“Lady In Gold” has seen them hone their craft, polish a few things up and sound so good they might just be making a bid for genuine stardom.

Rating 9.5/10