BOTH the title and motive behind The Blinders’ new album seems remarkably timely. The album explores numerous internal struggles across its eleven tracks, whether through the tortured sense of self in the vocal catharsis of “Forty Days & Forty Nights” or the cataclysmic depiction of an introvert’s breaking point on “Black Glass”, who refuses to “keep the blinds drawn to appease his twisted and paranoid appetite,” say the band.
Haywood’s vocal delivery has amazing theatricality, recalling the style of Palma Violets’ Chilli Jenson, so that the band is easily envisioned upon the stage. Despite their garnished theatrics, the messages are carried off as subtle, characterful laments rather than being preachy. The sheer force of Haywood’s performances, with aggressive grunts unspared, is one of the determining factors of the album’s impact.
“Something Wicked This Way Comes” is a stirring opener, which would not be nearly as stirring if not for the magnificent antithesis of the quiet verse and riotous chorus. The verse drips with tension as it moves towards the chorus, before Haywood’s whispered “Something wicked this way comes” beckons the ferocious clamour of Matthew Neale’s drums and a rush of dark guitars.
“Lunatic (With a Loaded Gun)”, not relinquishing the pace set by the first two clattering tracks, pushes ahead with a brutal punky energy. The track’s core shouted phrase is a fine example of Haywood’s ability to summon memorable lyrical zingers. It then closes amongst agonised screams in the background, then beset by Haywood’s final call of “Lunatic with a loaded gun!”.
The album’s palate is then tilted by the subsequent “Circle Song”, a more meditative offering to the succinctness of the previous. Jagged guitar cuts accentuate Haywood’s lyrics of longing (“how I wish to find my way back home”), with the tone being relevantly circular, taken across the character’s twisted psyche. The angelic backing harmonies laced into the track contrast ever so sweetly with it’s tortured heart.
Across the album, the guitar is at points incredibly Hendrix-y (“I Want Gold”, “Black Glass”), while at others gives off the spitting fire notes of The Stooges’ James Williamson (“Rage at the Dying of the Light”, “Forty Days & Forty Nights”). However, vocalist/guitarist Thomas Haywood still retains an individual persona.
On “I Want Gold”, the ominous thud of the bass bellows under Thomas Haywood’s screams of his deepest desires. Charlie McGough’s bass is as outstanding upon “From Nothing to Abundance”, which marches forth like an untamed beast, with Haywood’s vocals as raw as anywhere else, possibly more. His lyrical peals here are practically as murky and gothic as those of Nick Cave.
“Interlude” is as far from being labelled “album filler” as possible. Here, the band pair a beguiling spoken word performance with a contemplative piano arrangement. Poeticism abounds from start to finish, from the grandiosity of the eponymous “…I guess that’s just the fantasies of a stay at home psychopath”, to the concluding “…your weapon of choice, is the lightness of your voice”.
The penultimate and ultimate tracks, “Black Glass” and “In This Decade”, close the album with the relevant stylistic grandeur The Blinders possess. The former, with it’s furtive, incrementally crushing instrumentation, feels like the rending of society’s ills which plague the band through the album.
“In This Decade”, conversely, is a more sombre track, which whispers along as the dying but vigorous embers. In this, the primitive adornment of acoustic strumming put a focus on Haywood’s impassioned and yearning lyrics. Its lyrics perforate through clearly, perhaps due to the absolute vulnerability present.
Fantasies of a Stay at Home Psychopath contains enough rampant energy and tonal meanderings to rid anyone of ennui, lockdown related or not.
Fantasies of a Stay at Home Psychopath is out this Friday, July 17th, on Modern Sky. Order a copy here.
Watch the acoustic version of “Circle Song” below.