On their latest LP Grassed Inn, Brisbane janglers Blank Realm, mine a more precise pop sensibility from their familiar homespun chemistry. Building from last year’s Go Easy LP, breezy vocal yelps and Tangerine Dream synth lines meld into an aesthetic of casual jangle colliding with massive freak outs. Brisbane’s Bedroom Suck Records and London’s Fire Records are combining forces to distribute the album in Australia and North America. Blank Realm’s likeness, along with a handful of other Aussie bands gyrating around Bedroom Suck and Chapter Music circles, to New Zealand’s Flying Nun roster of thirty years ago has been duly noted, and even exhibited by last year’s Chaos in Tejas bill lumping them with The Bats and fellow Aussies UV Race.
While it’s tempting to deem the ethos of bands like Blank Realm, Bitch Prefect and Dick Diver as some sort of Flying Nun revival, making that statement doesn’t convey the extent to which they have sculpted their own godsent and effortless chemistry. This point is made even more poignant in the case of Blank Realm, three quarters of which is comprised of siblings Daniel, Luke and Sarah Spencer (the guitarist Luke Walsh is the only one outside the gene-pool). It’s refreshing to think of a situation where music is the natural consequence of creative people hanging out and not the reverse.
Grassed Inn is overflowing with gem-moments. Daniel Spencer’s lyrics bridge the gap between familiar and mythical, his tenor yowl most evocative in moments like Reach You on the Phone where he’s riding surges late night yearning. The careening space-rock riff of Bulldozer Love propels it forward into the stratosphere where the layers of sound start to bleed together, escalating in an extended krautrock detour. Meanwhile, Falling Down the Stairs is their Tally Ho (last Flying Nun comparison I’ll make) or perhaps their impressionist rendition of Come Dancing, a downright euphoric organ-driven jam. Sarah Spencer turns on the sparkle setting to eleven on her synth and sprays it in a thick mist over the mix, creating a neon coat that glistens in opposition to the lo-fi grit of their early stuff.
Blank Realm are a distinct arrangement of musical conduits. What they end up channeling on Grassed Inn isn’t a huge departure from the aesthetic Go Easy, but there are moments where I was surprised to hear their arrangements take a more single-minded shape than in past recordings. Fortunately for us Aussiephiles, these musical intuitions have only succeeded in making their songs more propulsive and momentous.
Out Now on Fire Records