The self-titled collection of experimental punk from Vancouver’s Blessed is wonderfully difficult to write about. Wonderful because it’s the type of release that discourages classification and simply commands your attention.
Nevertheless, here I am. Writing about it. I will inevitably try to classify it for want of something to say, but do so with the hope that it will peak your interest, so you too can take the plunge into this fabulous offering from a band with scary amounts of potential.
Blessed’s eponymous EP, clocking in at just over 21 minutes, has the scope and emotional range of a record twice its length. The quartet (Drew Reikman on guitar/vocals, Reuben Houweling on guitar/vocals, Mitchell Trainor on bass, and Jake Holmes on drums) finds stunning middle ground between showcasing their deft musicianship and a strict adherence to arrangement. Through all the sudden changes in dynamics, extended instrumental sections, and shifts in time signature, the band is always mindful of anchoring the onslaught with recurring motifs. It’s experimental, but also crafted with impressive precision.
While the instrumental talent is undeniable, so much of the emotional heft of the EP comes by way of Drew Reikman’s vocals. His ominous, Tom Verlaine-esque delivery gives these songs a distinct personality and a sense of undeniable purpose. You hear it on tracks like “Repossess” and during the enormous trudge of opener “Waving Hand”, both sounding something like Television playing Black Sabbath songs on top of a mountain. Reikman displays excellent instincts as a vocalist. He never allows his parts to crowd the meandering nature of the music; his voice settles into the deluge and effectively punctuates it.
If there is any justice left in the crapshoot that is the contemporary musical landscape, this EP should lead to bigger and better things for the band who created it. This is bold, interesting music that sounds about as singular as possible at a time when an increasing number of newer bands lean heavily on the familiar aesthetics of nostalgia to gain traction. There is so much talent here, but talent and obscurity too often go hand in hand and those bigger and better things can only happen if we start paying attention.