I’ve been hearing a bit of buzz about Blues Pills for some time, albeit predominantly from the other side of the pond. Though not a super group by any stretch (I think their bassist was in Radio Moscow or something), this multinational outfit unites an American rhythm section with a French guitar prodigy and a Swedish songstress who’s been compared to the likes of Janis Joplin and Etta James. Incidentally, instead of a band photo in the press pack, I only got one shot of Miss Larsson herself. Y’know, in case you’re wondering what the label’s big selling point is…
But I would not write this off as just another female-fronted psych/doom outfit. For one thing, Blues Pills don’t deal in the occult, offering instead a throwback take on vintage heavy psych—San Francisco, Summer of Love style. The album opens with “High Class Woman High Class Man,” which may or may not be an ode to prostitution. In any case, this big, crunchy riff wouldn’t sound outta place in a vintage porno, while the galloping chorus shows off Larsson’s vocal prowess with a flair for the catchy. “Ain’t No Change” is a bit more upbeat, a nice shuffling backbone beneath some stirring soulful vocals. I ain’t hearing no Etta James, but yes, this chick can certainly sing.
“Black Smoke” has a bluesy intro, but plays with the tempo, picking up to a mid-paced wall of sound before dropping back down into more melancholy territory. I’d put this one up with anything Jex Thoth’s done—if not higher! (Ditto the soulful, sultry stomp of “Astralplane.”) After a couple more down-tempo numbers, “Devil Man” picks up the pace in a big way, a swirling psychedelic number that’s equal parts Janis Joplin and Deep Purple.
OK, so they aren’t heavy rock all the time, but this record has the depth of feeling that you don’t often hear on amps-pushed-to-11, blast-beat-your-face-off albums nowadays. A true throwback in that sense, and hey, I could see ‘em going over pretty well if Witchcraft or Graveyard were to bring them over to these shores ;).