By: Grace Koennecke, Columns Editor
Kanine Records; 2022
Key tracks: “Sour Punch,” “Surround (With Love),” “The Fires,” “Waster”
Blushing is an interesting band to examine, as they consist of two husband and wife duos. Michelle Soto provides vocals and plays guitar, while her husband Jacob is on drums. Christina Carmona also contributes vocals and is responsible for the heavy bass sound present throughout their newest album Possessions, and her spouse, Noe, is also on guitar. The group is rooted in Austin, TX, when in 2009, Jacob and Noe both met their wives. As their wives grew to know each other, they both realized their vocal talent and guitar skills, allowing them to form Blushing.
The band’s first EP Tether dropped in 2017, followed by their next, Weak, in 2018 with Austin Town Hall Records. A year later, they released their debut self-titled album Blushing with Wallflower Records. Yet, they took a completely different approach when it came to recording Possessions.
Going into the studio at the end of 2019, the group worked with engineer and producer Elliot Frazier of Ringo Deathstarr, creating a new sound that was heavier than their previous works. It discusses the trials of a relationship and how life continues to bring the good and the bad. Blushing wanted the title of their album to represent the observation of the time we’re living in, believing the world is possessed by fear and societal ideals.
Clearly, Possessions encapsulates their belief, but misses the mark completely with the overuse of loud and obnoxious production. While you want to sympathize with what the band is telling you, specifically through the vocals of Soto and Carmona, you barely can hear what they have to say as wailing guitars and incessant drumming drown out their worries. Even their standouts are underwhelming, but at least save the album from losing its overall message.
The album starts out with the plug in of an aux cord, exposing listeners to “Sour Punch,” one of the only redeeming tracks present. The track tells the story of one being let down by their lover, who never shows them any love or appreciation. “You think it’s all worth another try, what a pity though / Can’t seem to pass for the one emotion you never show” is an amazing line, showing signs that the band can write painstakingly raw lyrics. Yet, it sounds too similar to the track before it, “Bed,” which uses the exact same bass and drum sounds throughout.
Towards the middle of the album, “Surround (With Love)” is nowhere close to a perfect song, but one where you can finally hear the vocals and understand the lyrics. The production is clean-cut with a melancholy tone, detailing how loving someone is unforgettable sometimes, especially when it’s true and pure. Soto and Carmona harmonize as they sing of admiring the way their lovers can always see the positive in the bad moments. The song switches halfway through from one guitar playing to several, with a punk rock beat that manages to stay light despite the darker lyrics. All in all, it’s a proper love song, but definitely not one that most people would think to play for their significant other.
“The Fires” follows shortly after, told from the perspective of a person who has been betrayed by their lover. “Your choice to leave you knew the path / Not in the way you know there’s no turning back” could imply an affair and the way this action can destroy the way you perceive a lover. Blushing uses stunning lyrical imagery to encapsulate the feelings of disbelief, anger and grief that come with the realization of an affair, and this track is by far the best on the whole album. At the end, the echoes of “You vowed” and “Try to stay away from you” solidify the message of the song: the person they loved clearly broke their vow to stay loyal.
One of the final tracks, “Waster,” is very robotic and futuristic in sound, but still a sonic mess. Soto and Carmona tell themselves to walk away from any toxicity they have experienced in the past, especially from former relationships. They vow to never forget the lies they were told by the individuals they once loved, but also admit that physical attraction can sometimes blur the lines of resisting the person that hurt you. Basically, the song is putting an emphasis on mind over matter, with the end revisiting the punk-rock sound that was present in the middle of the album.
Blushing tried to encapsulate the true nature of relationship struggles and the way relationships can change overtime, but failed at relaying these themes overall, even with their standouts. Possessions is sonically confusing and not well-thought out, nor does it highlight the talent of the group. Instead, it can be seen as a work-in-progress, acting as the first stepping stone to hopefully better albums in the future for the band.