Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Summer Heart - Blackbird Blackbird
SCQ Rating: 54%
It’s too early to decide whether chillwave will anchor itself as a permanent fixture merging indie to lo-fi electronics or dissipate once every last touchstone of the 80s has been mined. Chances are it’ll morph into new sandboxes, still carrying the dominant traits of its beach-obsessed predecessor but pillaging new scenes and time-periods. It can’t go away; chillwave already runs an army of unsigned bedroom acts and the handful of originals are worth the surrounding detritus. Still, judging anything that fits snugly into the chillwave brand means lowering the expectation bar, instinctively and considerably; something that bands like Blackbird Blackbird are probably banking on.
The issues I leveled toward Toro Y Moi’s debut this past Spring go quadruple for Summer Heart, a full-length so painfully in search of transcendence, it can’t be bothered finessing its listeners with anticipation or the basic foreplay of songwriting. Over its near twenty tracks (remixes included), few could be considered actual songs. The title track functions as a sort-of composition, structured in its lazy repetition and anthemic enough to whistle to, but hopelessly devoid of conflict or any terse note. A similarly brief and catchy utopia awaits listeners on the apt genre-summation ‘I’m Feeling Hazy’, but therein lies the blurred emotional core of Summer Heart. Too comatose to unload any vulnerability or even arrogance, Blackbird Blackbird’s debut results in a hodgepodge of directionless experiments that are as ear-friendly as they are brainless.
Sounding impressive isn’t necessarily a talent anymore, and buried between some of this demo-styled filler hides a few genuine tunes. The Balearic piano of ‘Ups & Downs’ and the twee-electronics of ‘Aura’ play out like micro-scaled summer hits, blissed out and carefree, but far more purposeful than so much of the remainder, which is simply too blissed out to register beyond a superficial contact-high.