Album Review: The Blinders – Electric Kool-Aid (Pt. 1)

By Jonah Cashel, Contributor

Rating: 8/10

Key Tracks: “Barefoot Across Your Water”, “City We Call Love”

Earlier this January, The Blinders released Part 1 of a two-part EP, aptly titled Electric Kool-Aid. The title derives its name from novelist Tom Wolfe’s psychedelic journalistic novel, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and the sounds explored in these five songs certainly live up to their namesake. As made clear with their last release, The Lounge Lizard Session, the group is moving away from their British Punk roots and moving towards something reminiscent of jam bands of the 70s and 80s. 

This EP makes it obvious that long jam sessions have given their music a more unified, polished feel — which they take full advantage of here. The change is glaring but the way they handle it is welcomed, and long-time fans need not fear the loss of their angsty roots. Lead singer Thomas Hayward still sounds very much like post-2010s Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys, but this recent deviation from the band’s usual sound has given them a much-needed boost of unique personality.

The opening track “Electric Kool-Aid”, running just over a minute long, can best be described as diabolical. A heavy, marching bassline and sitar-esque guitar riff inform the listener right off the bat what to expect from this album. It’s dark and dingy, but also deeply complex and infused with psychedelia. 

The next track, “Barefoot Across Your Water”, proves this complexity by swiftly transitioning to an uplifting key melody that accompanies a sentimental song about a loving nostalgic moment. Lyrics like “It’s time to find the meaning in the evening sky / and if we don’t we’ll surely die” make it clear that the group poured their hearts out into these songs — such impactful words can’t come from anything else.

“City We Call Love” and “The Writer” return to the darker tinge of the first track and prove that the band is still very capable of playing fast and loud. However, with the addition of a second guitarist and a keyboardist, the sound takes on a new quality as distorted chords are intermingled with fluttering keys. It’s infectious and shows an immense amount of growth from where they started.

Overall this project is an impressive display of a well-matured sound. Out of five songs, each one is both perfectly coordinated with the next and offers its own unique effect. For a relatively new and growing group, this kind of mastery is exciting, and it leaves a lot to look forward to in Electric Kool-Aid Pt. 2.

You can listen to the full EP here.

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