Don Blake – The ‘Blake District’ EP.
I’ll kill any sense of suspense here and just state outright that Don Blake rule. I’ve been sitting with the Bolton trio’s follow up to 2015’s great debut Pocket Universe, titled simply Blake District for over a week now and it’s already racked up more than forty straight play throughs. It’s addictive, concise and completely free of any unnecessary padding.
Catchy, mid-paced opener ‘A Broken Baritone’ starts things strongly featuring the repeated, ear-worm couplet – ‘I’m looking deep into myself, I think I’m beyond help’. There’s a sort of flat, endearing apathy to frontman Joe’s voice that really allows the listener to concentrate purely on the tunefulness on offer.
The far spunkier and impassioned second track ‘Lurking Kicks’ things up a couple of gears with a fiercer vocal delivery and a faster pace, with the featured hook – ‘I’m not fooling anyone… anyone’ – boasting some impressively sugary backing vocals.
‘The Road Home’ contains a super triumphant chorus riff against the vocal hook of ‘I push on, I push on’. At this point point the general lyrical themes are starting to reveal themselves, and they’re nothing particularly out of the ordinary for the Pop-Punk genre, in that the topics are introspection, self doubt and moving on/forward, which is further illustrated in the excellent final track ‘No Stops’ with the lyric – ‘No stops, I travel directly. Can’t hesitate, can’t hesitate, can’t hesitate’.
I think my favourite track of the five on offer here is the penultimate song ‘On the line’. It has a super infectious chorus and some lovely harmonies that I can only really describe as pure audio honey (to my ears anyway).
Don Blake have such an effortless grasp on catchy song-craft. They almost remind me of the lazy, breezy, ingeniously simple early Idlewild albums. The warm, enjoyable production by Bob Cooper makes each one of these songs sound like a warm reassuring hug each time I listen to it.
Melody is everywhere on this very strong EP of mature Pop-Punk songs, and it’s the primary strength of Blake District. It’s ridiculously tuneful at every juncture. Don Blake have verses that are catchier than many-a-bands choruses. If you love Pop-Punk with an emphasis on the Pop, then this is completely essential listening.
Recorded and produced by Bob Cooper at Crooked Rain Studios, Leeds and released via Round Dog Records.
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