Sound — 8
Blackfield is a collaborative project started in 2000 by Steven Wilson (solo, Porcupine Tree, numerous other projects) and Aviv Geffen (solo artist) with their aim being to create something in the realm of melodic pop rock. The project formed after Geffen invited Steven Wilson to come to Israel to play some live shows with Porcupine Tree, where Wilson and Geffen formed a friendship. Their first album, which grew from the idea of releasing a one shot EP, was released 4 years later in 2004 with Wilson writing, performing and singing on the vast majority of the material. With the next release this trend continued with Wilson being the primary contributor. With the third album, "Welcome to My DNA," the balance shifted to Geffen as Wilson had previous responsibilities and did not want to hold Geffen back. Wilson has stayed active with Blackfield, but more on the contribution of guitar and occasionally lyrics, and mixing of the albums. While their albums have the "feel" of a prog rock album, they follow the standard verse/chorus/verse type of song structures and tracks average out to about 3 minutes each. The work for "Blackfield IV" began in January of 2012, with both Wilson and Geffen going into the studio together. Wilson has stated he only contributed lead vocals to one track, and would otherwise be contributing some guitar parts, arranging backing vocals and help with the mixing of the album. While Wilson has stated he would only provide lead vocals on one track, he is credited for lead vocals on both the tracks "Jupiter" and "Pills." "Blackfield IV" contains 11 tracks with a total runtime of just over 30 minutes. "Jupiter" was the first track released along with a music video in late July, and "Pills" was made available at the same time for free download. At times the album reminds me of The Beatles or Pink Floyd, but don't take that to mean that Blackfield doesn't have their own unique sound. The first track, "Pills," is one of my favorite tracks from the album, as it includes Wilson on lead vocals and also has a very dynamic feel to it, overall. The next track, "Springtime," has Geffen on vocals and is one of the tracks that reminds me a little bit of The Beatles. The track "Sense of Insanity" is one of the most successful songs I've ever heard in capturing the feeling of melancholy. "Firefly," which has Brett Anderson on vocals, does a great job building up tension in the song, somehow having an almost manic feel. "Jupiter," the first "single" from the album, is actually my least favorite song on the album, as it comes across too much like "easy listening" or "soft rock" to me. "Kissed by the Devil" is another track that reminds me of The Beatles, but maybe more like The Beatles on a bad trip. The album closes out with "After the Rain" which has an interesting little percussion thing going on, and while it is only a minute and a half long it definitely does its job of bookending the album.
Lyrics — 7
Aviv Geffen provides almost all of the lead vocals, with the exception of guest vocalists on a few tracks. Steven Wilson provides backing vocals on several tracks, as well as the leads vocals for "Jupiter" and "Pills." The guest vocalists include Vincent Cavanagh (on "XRay"), Brett Anderson (on "Firefly"), and Jonathon Donahue (on "The Only Fool Is Me"). Though English is Aviv Geffen's second language he does a great job, and his voice really compliments the style of their music. The lyrics have more substance than you'll hear in most "pop" music these days. As a sample of the lyrics, here are some from the track "Jupiter," but you'll have to excuse any errors I might have: "Once we were young/ We had no plans/ What simplicity of love/ We used to get it to get it all/ We once get to fail and fall/ Know all I can do is to stand and watch/ Those new boys in the game/ how they're laughing and having fun/ making rules under the sun/ I woe in her pretty eyes tonight/ it's been so long since I played it right/ I'll get to Jupiter and halfway back/ Before she'll even notice I'm around/ They used to call me a city queen/ But now God's playing his jokes on me/ I'm all alone far from the city/ I've got no room no time for dreams."
Overall Impression — 8
Blackfield, with each release, gets a little more interesting. This album, to me, definitely has a kind of dark undertone which is expressed both lyrically and musically. It definitely is NOT a carbon copy of Porcupine Tree, but instead remains its own entity. My favorite tracks from the album, by far, are "Kissed by the Devil" and "Pills." While I didn't hate any song on the album, I felt like "Jupiter" was one of the weakest efforts. I look forward to see what direction Geffen and Wilson take Blackfield in the future.