Album Review: Blindfold – Faking Dreams

Icelandic quartet Blindfold offer up a subdued, dreamy mix on Faking Dreams, their first release. The opening track (“Falleg Depuro”, whatever that means) has an appealing verse structure, but waiting for the chorus that never comes is a little unsatisfying. Once conventional expectations are discarded, the album can be enjoyed for what it is. “Sad Face” track takes a more traditionalist song structure; pitter-pat drums and swelling strings convey a haunting vibe, a characteristic common to Faking Dreams‘ ten tracks. The song ebbs and flows; it’s cinematic-sounding music. Blndfold - Faking DreamsThe instrumental “Wait” is a highlight, despite the fact that it stakes out its musical territory in the first minute and never builds on it. That’s a characteristic to most of the tracks on this album, but the approach seems deliberate, not the result of a dearth of ideas. A sense of stasis, of glacial pace, is a central musical theme on the album. An exception is “Hungry Heat” which builds to a majestic crescendo, but it’s over too soon.

There are hints of Radiohead, but Blindfold isn’t aping someone else’s style; they have one all their own. The title track has a wobbly sense to it, not unlike a vinyl record with the center hole punched ever-so-slightly off center. “Caffeine and Sleeping Pills” features even more of that wobble; so much so, you might want to sit down (or lie down) when listening to it. That off-center, out-of-tune feeling pervades the album; slightly spooky tunes and drone-y instrumentation, often (but not always) fused to traditional, occasionally almost catchy melodies.

Midtempo dream pop? Sometimes. But just as often it leans toward the progressive side of things. Post-rock, shoegaze…yeah. The album closer “Reverse” drones on for six minutes, and then just when you think it’s going nowhere, the song kicks into high gear for about forty seconds. Then it fades into drones with lots of guitar squeals. Then it rocks out for the remainder of its nearly ten-minute running time. It’s easily the best, most interesting track on the album. More like it would be better.

The cover art is reasonably evocative of the music. Desolate, icy, remote, austere, a bit foreboding. And yet a sense of beauty pervades, hanging like a fog. The nearest corollary to Faking Dreams might be Radiohead’s Kid A. Add more melody, subtract some electronics, and you’re getting close. It’s not as good as Kid A but then most things aren’t.

Most American listeners (including this one) wouldn’t recognize an Icelandic accent if they heard one, and the vocals are sung in English by a character named Biggi. Beyond that, I got nuthin’. Look them up if you want to know more.