BLØSH are a curious and eclectic electric pop duo. They consist of guitarist Jørgen Berg Svela, of Oslo; and cellist/singer Teresa Bernabé, of Madrid. They recently released their debut album Keep Bleeding, Keep Breathing, having delivered an exclusive stream a week earlier. Not only is the album produced by Grammy Award nominee Øyvind Gundersen, it also features a co-production credit to Grammy Award nominee Hanne Kolstø on the title track. What is more, the album features a cameo from Grammy Award winner, singer Siri Nilsen.
Their influences and tastes stretch across many genres, such as Tom Waits, Rage Against The Machine, Simon & Garfunkel, Dirty Projectors, The Dø, Talking Heads and The Beatles. The latter’s Paul McCartney has even commended Bernabé for her unorthodox cello playing. The Liverpool link does not end there, neither, as her and Svela met studying music at university in that very city.
The opening track, “Give It Away”, combines cheery guitar scratches and sliding syncopated bass. The chorus is life affirming, with its rhythmic guitar licks. Following that is an interesting middle section, with a simple but very satisfying guitar melody-come-solo. Bernabé’s vocals are sun kissed and wash over you like every other aspect of the song.
“Dance With Me” is enjoyable, with its clapping drums and sparse, reggae-esque guitars. There are some layered vocals at play, here, and although the theme here is relatively happy, there is something melancholy about them, too. It evokes like a carnival or circus gone wrong, very eccentric and weird like a phantom carousel that will not stop.
Another standout, “When Love Is Alive”, featuring guest vocals from singer Siri Nilsen, opens with ringing chords, particularly the bass, suggesting what is subsequent to be epic and power pop. Here, again, middle sections play a key role, taking the listener to another level. The drum performance at this point builds well, and helps convey the crescendo. Layered vocals, again it seems, also appear to be part and parcel of the BLØSH formula, and are used expertly. They seem to either lock in with the drums, or the dominant melody, and swing instead being delivered flat across everything.
The album carries on with title track “Nobody Knows (Keep Bleeding, Keep Breathing)”, which is an indie rock number that has stabs of heavy rock guitar and what appears to be a mournful bass, perhaps a fretless one. These various elements come to a halt as more layered vocals take centre stage. Then there are keys playing melodies as that growling guitar comes to more prominence.
These keys soar, conveying what seems to be tortuous grief; powerful and weeping with emotion. It is all very progressive, and instead of diving into the realms of power pop, it becomes truly epic. It could very well be in the mould of, or a modern incarnation of, “The Fountain of Salmacis” or “Watcher Of The Skies” by Peter Gabriel-era Genesis.
Then there is closer “Nightmares”. There are ringing chords here, too, but on the piano, giving a completely different feel to the song. Very despondent and fed up, seems the feel on first impressions. Then, over this, you can soon here an eerie keyboard progression, punctuated by the aforementioned piano.
The vocals are soulful; yet quite dark, like being sung by an alternative rocker. The cello seems very much in tandem with this aspect, frenzied and disconcerting, like the knife in the back during a horror film. The vocal phasing is generally quite clever, and reads a bit like poetry dropping a word or two down onto the next line, or bar, for emphasis.
All in all, the album is reasonably consistent in its delivery with some gladly appreciated experimental delving, particularly during the middle sections. This particularly is the case on “Give It Away” and “When Love Is Alive”. Even the songs without distinct middle sections seem positively progressive, like “Nobody Knows (Keep Bleeding, Keep Breathing)” and “Nightmares”. Then there is the immediacy of the succinct “Dance With Me”, which proves there is a good mixture of long and short on this album.
BLØSH have their own sonic identity and formula, and are generally an absolute pleasure to listen to. There’s the right mix of technicality and simplicity in crafting songs fans of a wide selection of genres can appreciate. BLØSH’s Keep Bleeding, Keep Breathing is out now via Julia Julia Records, purchase it on iTunes here.