Hater - Red Blinders

by Mark Moody Rating:7 Release Date:2017-12-01
Hater - Red Blinders
Hater - Red Blinders

Hot on the heels of being named one of the Best New Bands by Stereogum, Swedish dream pop band Hater returns with the four song Red Blinders EP.  Their debut LP was also released this year, but you can already spot changes in their sound and development.  Whereas their debut had its share of 1960’s classic rock influences, with ‘Had It All’ echoing the early Stones and ‘Cry Later’ mimicking the opening chords of ‘California Dreaming’, the songs on Red Blinders clean up their sound, sand off the rough edges, and leave the past behind.  They have definitely moved towards the dream-pop, indie-pop camp.  For the most part this is a fine move and the bigger hiss free sound is a welcome step forward.  At the end of the day though, the songs are a bit like eating cotton candy.  They are sweet and enjoyable for the few minutes they last, but once gone are soon forgotten.  

Caroline Landahl has a beautiful voice, but it has been swirled into the music such that it is not as distinguishable as before.  Wisps of words appear and disappear before you can fully make them out.  On the opener and first single, ‘Blushing’ she sings in a syncopated cadence between the notes as a bigger drum sound and sparkly guitars dominate the song.  But with the lyrics difficult to pick out and the lack of a real chorus you find yourself looking for somewhere to grapple onto its smoothed out surface.  ‘Rest’ has a bit more urgency and a traditional verse/chorus structure which strengthens its delivery.  The false ending and resurgence of the song are a nice touch as well making it the strongest of the set.  Of the other two songs, ‘Red Blinders’ is forgettable, but ‘Penthouse’ is markedly better.  It has the most ragged and propulsive sound on the EP, but gets murky in places breaking the surface for moments of clarity and power.

Red Blinders shows a band moving forward but still trying to find its way.  The strength of a couple of the songs should get them some more exposure and there are no major missteps. The pieces are all laid out, Hater just needs to sort things out a bit more in regards to what will ultimately be assembled.

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