Blush 66 is an alternative dance/pop band formed in New York in 1997. Their songs spotlight Laura Jean’s clear, powerful voice and keyboardist Eddie Plank’s lovely analog riffs. Their hooks, like their beats, are more atmospheric than whomping, liable to come back to you at the oddest times, but not at all unwelcome.
“Understand” starts this EP with vocalist Jean and what sounds to my ear like a combination of guitar (by Anthony Plank) and keys, but may only be one or the other. The music nicely evokes feelings of confusion and frustration, and gets points for not rhyming “anticipating” with “waiting” and so avoiding lyrical cliche. The chorus could be distinctly catchier—it keeps sounding more like a bridge leading to the “real” chorus. “After All This Time” is the slow electro-dance music of Madonna’s dreams, but with a lyric that is better than anything she’s come up with in…well, it’s better than anything she’s ever come up with, and she’d do well to cover it if she weren’t convinced she were a “creative artist”. “In Your Arms”, the strongest track, sets a bittersweet lyric to a beat reminiscent of Garbage (that’s capital B, please note, I’m referring to the band, not the rubbish) and synths that sound like the shards left over after Erasure. I do not intend to make Blush 66 sound shabby or unoriginal by these comparisons; there is a chilly, hold on at all costs lest you break into tears quality to this song which is quite distinctive.
The production on this EP could have been a little fresher for my pop tastes; I would have preferred a greater emphasis on live rather than programmed-sounding beats. The ticking and swishing cymbals on “Velvet” and (especially) “Leave You Down” keep these from being completely successful as recordings. Though not as songs; in terms of songwriting, “Velvet” is nearly the equal of “In Your Arms”. And when and if this EP (and a previous one, which I have not heard) spawn a full-fledged album, perhaps it will be rerecorded with a stronger drum part.
As a critic, I find EPs frustrating. Either they fail to give me a fair idea of what a band is capable of producing, or they only leave me wanting more, as this one does. Nevertheless, this is going into my “to be valued” box.
I have this ex-girlfriend, you see. To this day, some five years on, I still don’t fully Understand why we are not together. After All This Time, I’m still scared by the idea that she’s the last woman I saw any future with. Though we remain…“friends”, I am also frustrated by the notion that I’m never entirely sure how much to trust what she tells me, or at best that there are always things she’s thinking that she’s not telling me. I tell you this not to cry on your shoulder—though if offered, it would not be unappreciated—but because I imagine that listening to Domecstasy is not unlike hearing this girl’s internal dialogue. The songs, written by Eddie Plank and Laura Jean (with assist on one track from drummer Arthur Adams), sound the way I would guess my ex-girlfriend thinks. Conflicted, longing for safety in love on the one hand but yearning for freedom in solitude on the other. Which is probably pure fantasy on my part. No doubt offensive both to the girl in question and the band under review here. Yet, if a function of art is to show us parts of ourselves in others (which I firmly believe it is), another must be to illuminate parts of others in a way that we can better understand them and be grateful for. That’s one of the reasons Pop Matters.
// Notes from the Road
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