17 Aug 2022
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Voodoo Bloo - Album Review: The Blessed Ghost

15 Jul 2022 // A review by Adrian Drew

Wellington Rockers Voodoo Bloo have released their second album The Blessed Ghost. This sophomore album follows on from the 2020 debut Jacobus. With four songs already released, the 12-track album opens organically (literally), with songwriter and frontperson Rory McDonald about to shed his teens...

"I wanted to set the tone right, it's a crucial detail that I think I overlooked a bit with 'Jacobus'.

The intro that you hear is made up of an audio journal entry I made the day before my 20th birthday, mixed with some banter at band practice. I really wanted to show how I acted in front of others and how I felt about the ever-changing world around me, before going into the album's main theme."

I generally like to listen to albums quite a few times before even putting pen to paper but what stands out straight away is Rory's distinctive voice, he has great range and control. Overall, the album has super tight production with some cool time signatures and tempo changes. There's power and fragility to the songs, they're anthemic - not as in an arena but cathedral, or better yet, the deepest darkest caves in Niflheim. The whole album flows really well start to finish, so let's get into it.

Lead single Pursuit is everything I like about Voodoo Bloo, huge, uniquely dark chorus with seamless transitions. This just rolls along, what seems like a brooding bridge, actually builds and develops on to the outro. I get the feeling that I'm in a gothic sci-fi funhouse. This is the most recent single and excellently showcases their talent.

We're Here, Love Is Somewhere Else and Default both have a relentless pace to them. I can see these going off live on the dancefloor. They've got that alt-indie vibe, Cut Off Your Hands meets The Killers, but I can also hear earlier musical influences all over the album, Interpol, Joy Division etc. While Rhubarb & Custard is a beautiful piece of introspection, sparse and beautifully haunting, complimented by the marching band drums and vocal delivery.

The standout song for me is Skin, it's a masterpiece and musically, a shift forward into the new brighter unknown. Narratively, Rory seems to have realised that he is his own character's psyche and this plays out both poetically and musically, highlighted by the psychedelic carnival outro that lends from the really cool dark bass riff that features throughout. Totally see why this was chosen as a single, some great catchy elements, a couple of excellent vocal hooks and the keys throughout. This even has a nod to the later electronic Radiohead, love it!

If you don't feel the impending doom yet, then For Asterisk ramps that up. A lot of sound production has gone into this song, creating the right atmosphere for the message to be sung loud and clear. This is a send off. There's so much power to this track, with perfect vocal effects and layering adding to the drama. But now that there's some hope, Tomorrow Person opens up the sonic soundscapes. It is a wonderfully painted song and has a great tempo, this really showcases the strength of the music and songwriting.

Ritalin then starts out with a lovely urgent acoustic guitar, almost Latin guitar or banjo perhaps? There's a dynamic juxtaposition with the music and lyrics... light and dark. I love the rolling toms, perfect for the track mood, then we smash through the glass ceiling and Rory literally places himself in the narrative... Stephen King would be proud. It's now that I realise the nightmares being played out here in this album. I felt as though I was stuck in a washing machine for the second half of this song, while Rory screams to himself I was also screaming to be let out.

Another song already released, Small, features some of my favourite drum work and proves how melodic drums can actually be. This song has really grown on me with each listen, I'm digging the call and response... very hooky! There's a reason this song made the Radioscope Rock Airplay charts and I expect it won't be the band's last.

As we begin to close out the album, we get a slow number showing Voodoo Bloo's diversity and range. Title track The Blessed Ghost (older now) feels like a song for late in the set, lighters out. It opens up with just Rory on acoustic guitar, bringing me visions of him on stage after pack down just sitting there singing, legs dangling off the stage. It builds nicely as all the band comes in to join him and then takes on a swingy vibe before delighting me with a Beatlesque finish. Then to end, if I referenced Radiohead before it plays out again musically here in Continuous Stimulus, with full dark crooning vocals before the urgency returns. Have the demons truly left, maybe, maybe not?

The Blessed Ghost is Rory, or at least it was. This release of catharsis, reflection, aggression, realisation and discovery is the heaviest material I've listened to in a long time and it's affected me deeply, which is the aim of any good musician. Voodoo Bloo now comprise of Daniel Maslin on guitar, Oli Cass on Bass and Jackson Kidd on drums, helping to bring Rory's visions to life. The band complement each other perfectly and bring a big step forward in the overall sound of the band. The result is a very polished international product, ready to take the stage anywhere in the world.

Voodoo Bloo - The Blessed Ghost is out now!

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Voodoo Bloo

Voodoo Bloo are an energetic young alternative rock band influenced by artists such as My Bloody Valentine, Interpol, Radiohead and Arctic Monkeys.




Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Voodoo Bloo

Releases

Jacobus
Year: 2020
Type: Album

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