EP Review: Puma Blue – Blood Loss

The state of the world at the moment seems to involve a lot of polarised pairings. One need not look far to find all sorts of binary befuddlements to ponder. And while some of these speak of horribly regressive worldviews, others rather seem preoccupied with trying to plot a course out of the existential malaise so many are plagued with.

It’s one of latter that Puma Blue – Jacob Allen – seems to capture of new EP Blood Loss – resistance/resignation.

Speaking recently about 2018 single ‘Midnight Blue’, Allen detailed how it was bourne of hypothesising about the end of a relationship, and realised when the relationship did in fact end. And this sense of fait accompli runs throughout the EP’s more blue-toned, downcast moments.

At times – for example, ‘Midnight Blue’ but also throughout ‘Ether’ – Allen seems keen to take a wide-angled view of issues of the heart, his sugary drawl assuming the role of both the lovelorn and the detached. While this is a little unnerving at moments, it also seems somewhat accordant with the world. The best thing to do is let the world happen to you, and then find some way to tell the tale. Feel your heartache, but don’t get too involved. Recount the story from a distance.

But at other points, Allen’s narrative seems altogether more resilient, and while his vocals remain almost invariably slinky, at moments the music galvanises and hardens, casting aside the inward-facing aloofness and replacing it with an edifying gravitas. The overlapping voices of ‘BC/Rift’ offer more forceful sturdy rhythmic traction, the ebb and flow of ‘Lust’ is still more enticing, and the hot, dry sax notes that appear throughout the EP deliver a musical and emotional brightness.

Penultimate track ‘Bruise Cruise’ sees the EP’s dual narrative reach a crescendo. Pacier and more musically forceful, Allen’s lyrics also punch through all the harder, the frustration of being misunderstood (“I’m just trying to make you see”) and the admission of jealousy (“I just want you to myself”) offering the most upfront and direct points in EP’s story.

Both aspects of the music seem somehow right, both resonate in equal measure – on the one hand, resignation that things are as they are, will be as they will be, and we’re all just passengers; on the other the bubbling exasperation at trying to get a hand on the wheel, the frantic fumble trying to stick a foot on the gas peddle.

Blood Loss does an admirable job of portraying the frustrations of this dichotomy and using it to colour Allen’s stories in deeply personal tones.