Dead Heart Bloom – In Chains

Dead Heart Bloom

Dead Heart Bloom

New York City-based Dead Heart Bloom’s latest release, In Chains, is the last installment of their EP trilogy which began with Fall In back in September 2008 and was followed by Oh Mercy in November. If we learned anything about Dead Heart Bloom from these first two EPs, it’s to expect the unexpected. And so it’s no surprise, given the voluminous talents of the core duo of Boris Skalsky and Paul Wood, that In Chains is an exceptional piece of musical work, even though they have jumped genres once again.

Gone are the frothy synths and reverberating bass lines of Fall In. The angular chord changes, turbulent distortion and razor-sharp guitar leads of have vanished and all have been replaced by a more pensive, trippy and desolate Americana sound as Dead Heart Bloom continue their stylistic experimentations. These expressive explorations have also allowed the band to show off their vocal variability and prowess as well, as the vocals on each EP are transmuted to fit with it’s style. Whether it’s a Bowie-esque smooth baritone, a Peter Murphy-like distortion or, in this case, druggy, reverbed and melancholic.

Opener “Flash In A Bottle” sets the tone early as the somber acoustic frames play out in a slightly Southern-Gothic style that’s bolstered by a woeful but catchy melody as the eerie resonances make the sparse song sound full. The claims of Beck-like eccentricities are substantiated on “Halfway Gone” and “Farther Than You” as the bouncy, broken-hearted pop is emphasized by a trippy organ solo on the former, while the latter is a sprawling freak-folk ditty that features a crafty slide guitar backdrop and ghostly but rich vocal harmonies. The slow and somber lullaby “Impossible New City Dream” ends the affair in a wave of saddened strings.

It’s phenomenal, and a testament to the band’s talented musicianship and songwriting, how Dead Heart Bloom is able to hop genres so easily while maintaining originality and artistic integrity. Each EP in this series is well crafted and exquisitely recorded and mixed. But the true marvel lies in the way they are all tied together, even though musically divergent, with a common theme, complete with splendid cover art and designs. In fact if you lay out all three EPs in sequential order, the front mosaic makes a composite picture of a chained, deteriorating wall, while the back spells out the band’s name.

It’s apparent that no matter what Dead Heart Bloom do next, it will be done well, in sharp style, and with a clever charm that will make it an engaging listen worth many repeated plays. Much like the three EPs in this series.