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Blackfield - Blackfield IV CD (album) cover




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2.74 | 172 ratings

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2 stars High expectations are sometimes unfair. Sometimes, the overwhelming positive sense of what's about to happen turns out to dull the actual moment when it arrives. It's human nature, I guess. Where albums are involved, the expectations get heightened because of the sometimes lengthy time that sits between each album release. Maybe that explanation is a good part of the reason for my less than excellent review of this much anticipated fourth release from Blackfield.

It's been just two and a half years since the most excellent 'Welcome to My DNA' album. This was my number 1 album of 2011. It was a groundbreaking breakthrough for Aviv Geffen; his coming out party. I had somewhat low expectations for that release at the time because I knew beforehand that Steven Wilson was stepping back a bit and letting Aviv step out front. The songs were Aviv's, the vocals were mostly Aviv's, and now, over two years later, it still stands as one of my "go to" albums.

Things started out great when we heard 'Piills' in February of this year, as an advance of this record. It's a song that recalls everything great about Blackfield - melancholy, dark, melodic, brooding, emotional...fantastic. I was excited about what was to come.....

'Jupiter' was released next and, again, all the trademark Blackfield sounds. Terrific orchestration, poignant lyrics and the voice of Steven Wilson up front. Two for two!!!!!

Then the CD arrived. I had ordered the CD with an autographed booklet, which was amazing, as it came with no extra cost involved. Aviv signed the booklet and it was included with a shrink wrapped CD which contained it's own I have two. Nice. I can safe-keep the autograph. Good stuff!

I've listened to the album over 25 times. Unfortunately, my opinion now is the same as it was after five listens. These are not bad song ideas. The problem is just that. They are song ideas. It's as if we all went to meet Aviv in the studio as he was creating the new Blackfield album and he played us all these great song bits. Our reaction would be, "wow these are amazing! Can't wait to hear the finished product!"

Well, this is the finished product and it just leaves us wanting. The songs never really get going and, when they do at times, they end far too quickly. Some of them are so frustrating to listen to, that I skip past them now. It's a painful act, as these could have been great had they been fully realized. I do like the use of additional vocalists as Vincent Cavanagh, Brett Anderson, and Jonathan Donahue shine on their tracks.

'Springtime' follows 'Pills', as track two. Great harmonies and trademark Blackfield sounds are here as well. It's a good second track and one of the more positive Blackfield lyrics ever. The song is over at just over two minutes. However, I let this one pass as it's simple nature fits well with the running time.

Cavanagh's performance on 'X-Ray' is especially amazing. It's a simple song that is made great because of the vocal.

'Sense of Insanity' may be the most mainstream Blackfield has ever been. With the Geffen / Wilson vocals in full force and a singalong bit at the end, this is a song U2 could have brought to #1 on American radio.

'Firefly' is a fantastic idea with Brett Anderson at the mic. The orchestration closing part is quite excellent, but at two minutes and 44 seconds, it's one of the longest songs on the record. The song has no time to breathe...there's no completion of the circle here, if that makes any sense.

Jonathan Donahue takes his turn at the Beatles' inspired 'The Only Fool is Me' and, although the performance is top ends before one can really appreciate it. It's under two minutes! Where's the rest of it? Look, I am not against short pop songs - I am a Beatles fanatic - but these songs are not 'Love Me Do'. They are crafted melancholy songs, with beginnings - middles - and ends. These feel truncated.

Following the aforementioned, and excellent 'Jupiter', Aviv is back out front for possibly the most disappointing piece of the album. 'Kissed By the Devil' has such amazing potential. It's got a retro-sixties vibe and an amazing vocal...and begins to fade out at just over the two minute and 25 second mark. WHA??!! I feel empty when I hear it. I have to skip it because it leaves me completely cold. It's the same feeling I got when I lost hot water in the shower right after I shampooed my hair. You just want to yell at someone to turn the hot water back on. Where's the rest of the song???

The next two tracks are just incomplete ideas that never reach enough momentum. 'Lost Souls' is a repetitive rocker that actually reaches three minutes. 'Faking' has some potential and a nice structure but is missing something. I don't know quite what it is, but it's something that was clearly present on all other Blackfield albums.

The closing track, 'After the Rain' is the most frustrating track that Blackfield has ever recorded. It's BRILLIANT. Yes, brilliant. I can feel the emotion through every second of the track. All 86 seconds of it. What happened to the rest of it?? Had Aviv built this idea into a complete song, I can't imagine how amazing it could have been. But, alas, it was not to be.

And then it's over. 31 minutes. It's possibly the shortest, non-EP that I own. That would be OK, had it been advertised as such. Maybe released as a bonus disc or special add-on to a future full length record. Then we could appreciate it to what it was meant to be.

These song ideas could only come from the mind of Aviv Geffen. He's a pop maestro, a developing genius and artists like him don't grow on trees. The problem is that the songs are incomplete on Blackfield IV. Aviv has the highest grade ingredients to cook up a masterpiece but the main course needed to marinate more and, as a result, the taste is not as bold as it should be.

JawdysBasement | 2/5 |


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