Artist: The Blinders
Title: Fantasies of A Stay At Home Psychopath
Label: Modern Sky
Words: Heather McAleavy
The curse of the second album is a common and unfortunate one, often felt most severely by those with critically acclaimed debuts. After The Blinders’ debut album Columbia introduced the world to their original take on political and social commentary, the magnifying glass has loomed more intensely on them than any other. The Yorkshire trio was under extreme pressure to not succumb to this with their new full-length Fantasies of A Stay At Home Psychopath, but did the pressure help shape a diamond or see their dystopian empire fall?
The intricate and varied instrumentation which The Blinders originally set the bar with makes up for the surprise lyrical twist, and throughout the record meets the high-energy standard we come to expect from them
Shockingly, the title has no link to the COVID-19 lockdown, as it was announced in February and originally due for release in May. This is just another example of how in-tune The Blinders are with the state of the world – almost to the point of prediction. Whereas Columbia revolved around an alternative reality based on the capitalist rulings of our own, Fantasies of A Stay At Home Psychopath is a little more close to home.
Rather than stick with the conceptual themes they’d previously laid down, some songs on this album are a little more “mundane” in comparison. For example, ‘Forty Days & Forty Nights’ speaks of leaving a toxic relationship, all while laced with deep, brooding riffs and fast bongo rhythms. The intricate and varied instrumentation which The Blinders originally set the bar with makes up for the surprise lyrical twist, and throughout the record meets the high-energy standard we come to expect from them, albeit without much glaringly obvious development.
‘Interlude’ is the most diverse track musically, lead by a swung piano melody with light brush drum beats and strings. Spoken word is a welcomed change, with Thomas Haywood’s Yorkshire accent reading the lyrics like they were poetically intended, enunciating every sound to clash with the enigmatic instrumentation. It’s a nod to Columbia closer ‘Orbit (Salmon of Alaska)’, but fully committing to the style, which increased the standard of the album considerably.
The album is drenched with poignant references to the Bible, Bowie and other writers/poets, conveying this is more than a collection of songs but a philanthropic offering
While the political grief is less obvious for the most part, ‘Lunatic (With A Loaded Gun)’ gets things directly back on track. The opening lyrics “There are children in cages on Monday’s front pages, this is not a history book, this is no play” make clear reference to Trump and ICE, and continues to question civilian compliancy to these “lunatics” in power. In true Blinders fashion, it tackles dark issues with a refreshing flair as a short, stomping anthem is blatantly made up of outrageous facts.
With The Blinders’ innovative approach to unstructured songwriting, abstract lyrics and mature vocals, one almost forgets their age. In opening track ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’, the line “I’ve said all I need to say before I’m 22, yet I could not help but overhear your sordid, evil, wicked views” is a reminder that age shouldn’t enable ignorance. The album is drenched with poignant references to the Bible, Bowie and other writers/poets, conveying this is more than a collection of songs but a philanthropic offering.
Despite not having the same gut-wrenching impact of its predecessor, and carrying less direct political outrage, Fantasies of A Stay At Home Psychopath still doesn’t allow itself to be a backing track that can be listened to idly. It can still be considered thought-provoking as it echoes the plot in real time, yet merely features more relatable scenarios to make for an easier digest.
Fantasies of A Stay At Home Psychopath is out now via Modern Sky