Monday, October 31, 2011

Blindside - With Shivering Hearts We Wait Album Review

This is the last of my un-blogged reviews that I wrote for Decoy Music. I haven't had a chance to write another full review since this one was published as I have focused more on my Discoveries article series, which allows me to cover more bands and expose them to people who otherwise might not have heard of them. It's nice to be able to cover bands that you know and that are established, since exploring their history, changes, and new directions is compelling, but I would much rather get out the word on bands or artists who haven't yet been discovered by the majority of people who visit Decoy Music or read this blog. Anyhow, this was originally published on May 10, 2011.

It’s been well over a decade since I discovered Blindside’s self titled album in high school. Blindside and A Thought Crushed My Mind were staples of my discman as I exited high school and entered college. I would spend countless hours in the gym listening to a combination of Project 86’s self titled album, Chevelle’s Point #1, P.O.D.'s The Fundamental Elements of Southtown, and Blindside’s A Thought Crushed My Mind. They were the fuel that kept me going day in and day out. Since I already had a strong affinity for Blindside, when Silence hit I loved it before I even listened to it, and after listening to it, I embraced it as the minor masterpiece it was in the post-hardcore genre. But then things started to fall apart… About a Burning Fire had a few stellar tracks, but for the most part I was heartbroken by it. Blindside had changed again, which wasn’t unexpected considering the changes they had gone through from album to album up to that point, but the changes weren’t where I had hoped the band would go. Knowing everyone makes mistakes and deserves a second chance, I gave them another one when The Great Depression came out the next year. That was a mistake. Gone was everything I had loved about the band. Gone was the connection I had made to them. Gone was everything I recognized. We had finally, tragically, grown so far apart that I packed up my Blindside CDs and moved on. I guess we had a good run while it lasted.

But now, just like running into a long forgotten ex-girlfriend unexpectedly, Blindside has resurfaced with With Shivering Hearts We Wait. It’s been six years and things have obviously changed for both of us, but why not try to get reacquainted? Enough time has passed so that it’s not awkward to see each other and just talk. As we discuss how our lives have been over a couple of coffees, I notice that Blindside took the time we’ve been apart to look at their full musical history. They talk a lot about how they had explored so much territory and all of it was essential for their growth, but in listening to With Shivering Hearts We Wait, it seems to me that instead of focusing on what their true identity was, they’ve tried to concoct an identity that is a melding of everything they’ve previously been at one time or another… well, minus the early anger and immaturity that we all grow out of. I had hoped that all of their explorations and experimenting would help them pick out their true voice, but instead it seems like they’ve forced themselves to be what everyone wants them to be, trying to please everyone, which only leaves them frazzled and disorganized at times.

Just like an ex-girlfriend, I also see some glimmers of what I used to love. “There Must Be Something in the Water” could easily have come from Blindside’s Silence days and “My Heart Escapes” is a beautiful example of some of the relatable lyricism that I remember so fondly. It makes me yearn for what we shared over 8 years ago, but there’s no going back to that time. And just like an ex, for every glimpse into the past, every nostalgic yearning, and every unearthed memory, there are sharp reminders of what drove us apart digging into my side the more we try to reconnect.

It’s unfortunate that Blindside are still casually experimenting with unneeded keyboard usage, and their love for indie rock and Muse hasn’t gone away, so parts of our time together as we share With Shivering Hearts We Wait are obviously tainted. I try not to make any visible cringing because I don’t want to hurt their feelings, but I have to tell them that the indie rock influences just don’t quite fit them, and they shouldn’t force it… but maybe this is who they really want to be.

Truthfully, it was great to spend some time with Blindside again, catching up on what they’ve been up to, hearing some of the new things they’ve put together, but I don’t think I’ll plan on seeing them again. We say we should get together in the future, have dinner, keep in touch... We exchange numbers, making sure to complete this ritual of faking that things haven’t changed. We wish each other well, but I think we both know that the spark we used to share isn’t there anymore. We’ll always have the memories, and it was nice to be reminded of what we have shared, but the Blindside of today isn’t the Blindside I originally fell in love with.

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