[25 April 2014]
Bleeding Rainbow kick out the jams in a distinctly mid ’90s alt-rock fashion on Interrupt, which is no problem at all as far as I’m concerned. Vocalist Sarah Everton puts one in mind of Veruca Salt front women Nina Gordon and Louise Post, all elongated vowels and sustained notes, while the guitars bash away in the background and solos are thin on the ground. Tempos tend to be quick and songs are generally in the two-to-three-minute range, making for a fast-paced album that doesn’t linger.
Opening track “Time & Place” bursts out of the gate on a tide of energy and power chords, with Everton’s defiant-but-wistful vocals surfing above it all, a kind of statement of purpose that will be supported by the balance of the album. Follow-up track “Tell Me” deviates from the pattern enough to introduce harmony vocals from Rob Garcia, as well as a touch of discordance between verses, all without rocking the boat of the listener’s expectations too terribly much. “Start Again” leaves vocal duties to Garcia, whose more hoarse, less sweet voice lends an air of borderline hysteria to the proceedings. Wrapped up in it all is the band’s melodic sensibility, which manages to locate the sweet spot between a hummable melody and a thick swath of distorted guitar noise.
And so it goes. The heft of the record comes from its theme-and-variation experiments with the power-pop template that it lays out so effectively in these opening tracks. For every slightly downtempo tune like “So You Know”, there is a peppier one such as “Dead Hand” or “Monochrome”. Fans of elongated jamming or six-string wizardry will find little to love; the closest Interrupt gets to a solo is a bit of single-string twanging that matches the melody line here or there. But the band play with dynamics cannily enough, and are a rock-solid enough outfit all around, that the record rarely feels tedious.
The short running time helps too. The album clocks in at barely 35 minutes, so there’s not much chance to get bored despite the relatively limited sonic palette on display. Bleeding Rainbow are wise enough to break things up a bit with the relatively slow-paced “Out of Line”, a tune that also plays with the quiet-loud-quiet dynamic so beloved of ’90s rock bands. Meanwhile, “Images” cranks away like a leftover Elastica tune, and at two minutes fits the bill quite nicely, notwithstanding Garcia’s throaty hollering.
Interrupt closes with one of the best songs here. At nearly six minutes, “Phase” would be an epic in Bleeding Rainbow terms, but that’s misleading, as the last two minutes are actually an unconnected coda (remember the “hidden track” gimmick of the ’90s? Yeah, that’s here too). Nevertheless, Everton’s breathy vocals meld with the guitars of Garcia and Al Creedon to create a swooping stew reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine, and that’s no bad thing either.
If it seems like every band I compare Bleeding Rainbow to comes from the ’90s, well, that’s not a coincidence. Bleeding Rainbow are carrying the torch for the punchy, guitar-based bands of that era. Not exactly a throwback, they comes off more as true believers who just never stopped playing the music that they grew up listening to. The good news is that they do so with verve and panache. If they don’t exactly bring anything new to the table, they’re at least smart enough musicians to let themselves be influenced by some terrific bands.