Album Review: The Blinders – Columbia

The Blinders are ready to take you to Columbia, a dystopian world brought to life through their debut album. Originating from Doncaster, the 3-piece consisting of Thomas Haywood (Vocals/Guitar), Charlie McGough (Bass) and Matt Neale (Drums) were all childhood friends at school, and quite clearly the coolest youths in the building. The Blinders and Columbia have strong influences from not only musicians such as Nick Cave and Iggy Pop, but poets like John Cooper Clarke and author George Orwell and his novel ‘1984’. With the help of This Feeling, BBC Introducing and Radio X, The Blinders have attracted an immense amount of followers within the past year and support slots from Cabbage, The Charlatans and The Courteeners.

Columbia opens with ‘Gotta Get Through’ a live fan favourite which also opens the setlist. The anthemic drum beat runs throughout the track with a strong bass shadowing its lead. Haywood exclaims how as humans, we must endure pain for self-healing; whilst producing a hypnotic riff throughout the chorus, making your foot tap vigorously into Columbia.

Through Columbia, we discover previous unreleased live hits, which any person who has had a chance to attend a show knows their genius. ‘Hate Song’ somehow has the crowd boogieing through the mosh. Fan favourite single ‘I Can’t Breathe Blues’ – a newly recorded ICB Blues from EP Hidden Horror Dance in 2016 excels the band’s lyrical aptitude “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” blending the dystopian theme with a biblical reference.

‘Where No Man Comes’ slightly slows down the tone of the record with intimidating gothic vibes. Lyrics “I work to rectify the parties lies” exclaims the political tension within society and the life of the working class as we are all overshadowed by hierarchal figures. Following the sluggish vibes, ‘Ballad of Winston Smith’ takes an indistinguishable rhythmic relation with King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s ‘Billabong Valley’ with dark lyrics “Hang the Manson family” and “Calling for Satan’s dread” replicating the apathy between the government and it’s people.

‘Et Tu, Brutus’ leads on from ‘Ballad of Winston Smith’ and after being cautious for quite some time whether the studio recorded version will be as good (if not better) than live. I can guarantee it lives up to its standards. The fury of strings opens ‘Et Tu’ seeking mass amounts of tension as Haywood screams “as martyrs we enter the arena with a hand to hold. But we die on a cross all alone”. Haywood cries out how in theory, society is supported and backed by the superiors, but in reality, its a free for all. The reputation of Berlin Wall (embedded into Brutus) at a live show is what truly creates this masterpiece. “They’re gonna build a Berlin Wall, divide you in two” has your heart howling as well as your voice. Haywood takes a moment to divide the crowd into two, emulating the contrast of society and replicating the Berlin Wall. The finale brings the crowd to unity, a swarm of sweaty exhausted humans under the control of the government, rushing into a manic brawl of survival, which sums up our day to day lives.

The idea of unity is additionally followed in ‘Rat In A Cage’ and how we “come together, [and] we need each other” with backup from a harmonica. Possibly not how the Pied Piper summoned the rats out of Hamelin: but certainly the way to summon the population towards Columbia. ‘Orbit (Salmon Of Alaska)’ takes a relatable approach in a more relaxed atmosphere as Haywood speaks out how “The King Cobra is hypnotised” presenting the indoctrination onto society. Closing the album on quite a low mood, as we are “free from the power of the man”. Columbia is an exceptional piece of art and gets better with every listen. It truly lives up to the expectations set by the band’s immaculate live shows.

Columbia is released via Modern Sky on 21st September 2018.