[15 July 2014]
PopMatters Assistant Editor
Blue Skies for Black Hearts, lovingly dubbed Portland’s “Princes of Power Pop”, have come roaring back on their sixth, self-titled release, penning their strongest songs to date and featuring a wall of four-part harmonies and a smoking new rhythm section. Lead singer/songwriter Pat Kearns’ tunes draw from a diverse span of American rock, past and present, like the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles-esque call and response of “It’s Gone on Too Long,” the doo-wop crooning on “Love Scenes, or the Otis Redding-inspired falsetto breakdown of “Waiting to Run” before launching into an epic double guitar closer.
But it is the lush four-part harmony soundscape that is the pride of Blue Skies’ live show, a rarity among their contemporaries (notable exceptions include band favorites Dr. Dog and the Liverpool crooners with Dan Croll).
Blue Skies for Black Hearts began over 13 years ago as a songwriting outlet for musician/producer/engineer Pat Kearns. Along with long time lead guitarist Michael Lewis, the band’s newest lineup includes Portland music veterans Mark Brietenbach, Grant Law and Jason Russell. “The new band is killing it,” says Lewis. “They bring such a depth to the music, that I’m still hearing new things every time I spin a track of the new LP. It’s clearly our best record to date.”
Blue Skies for Black Hearts is out now through Velvatonic.