Right from the minute you first lay eyes on its sleeve art, Taste for Blood intrigues. The name of the album by the Seattle-based Smokey Brights suggests a vampiric theme running throughout the music, but lyrically this is miles from Twilight and its ilk. Like the music of Taste for Blood, the lyrics here are enigmatic and complex. The title track finds the band singing, “I remember / We could read the wind like braille”. Such complex imagery is matched splendidly by the music, which spans a whole gamut of sonic styles, from indie (the catchy title cut) to folk (“West Texas Vampyre”) to blue-eyed soul (“If I Can’t Change Your Mind”). It’s the kind of listen that sidesteps every expectation you could have of it.
Vocalist and guitarist Ryan Devlin had a lot to say to PopMatters about Taste for Blood. “Only when something is familiar can it deviate from its origins in a way that is both affecting and even unsettling. The familiar is what we let under our skin. It moves us and changes us because we have already made a place for it in our consciousness. This is what Smokey Brights have aimed for with Taste for Blood. We wanted this record to feel familiar, like a dusty gem found in your parents record crate that you connect with in a way your parents never could. The one you steal and add to your record collection. We wanted it to feel inviting. We wanted it to beckon the listener to lean in close and get cozy, but once there, to suddenly become aware of the bizarre. To notice the cover reads Taste for Blood in light-pink lettering. To stop and wonder, ‘What am I singing along to?’ To queue into the blips and backgrounds that bring goose bumps to the flesh. The truly beautiful is always slightly bizarre. We sought to tap into that undeniable attraction when something is so peculiar, you can’t look away.
“Smokey Brights have been a band for close to four years, releasing a full demo two months after forming and pressing two 7-inch records in the years following. But we’re just now getting to this full-length business. We have spent an absurd amount of time together over these last few years. We have grown to be best friends. Two of us, Ryan (guitar and vocals) and Kim (keys and vocals), got married this past summer, and the rest of the band, Nick (drums,) Jim (bass and vocals,) and Mikey (lead guitar and vocals), were in the wedding line. We have spent a lot of time listening to each other, talking about records we like, futzing with synths and pedals, and figuring out what kind of band we wanted to be when we grew up.
“Sometime late last year, we started to find our stride. The songs got darker, moodier, and more anthemic. Once we figured out where we wanted to go, most of these songs were written in a fury over just a few months. We tracked everything in a little over a week in a huge, drafty barn in rural Washington. Taste for Blood embodies this compression of time. Years of listening and exploring followed by a few months of writing and a week of live tracking. It’s immediate. It’s meditative. We hope that you spend some time with this moody little album: listen on headphones, listen while driving at night, listen while in that reflective state after a good meal with good friends. Our hope is that it feels familiar enough to move you and maybe even creep you out just a little, all the while remaining beautiful in its bizarreness.”
Taste for Blood is out on November 11th. Dive into the making-of process of the album through the video below: