Blood on the Wall

Blood on the Wall

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Blood on the Wall Review

by Heather Phares

Almost everything about Blood on the Wall's self-titled debut is hyperactive: all strummy guitars, jumpy rhythms, and yelped vocals, the album's dozen songs breathe new life into now-traditional indie rock moves. They may not be the most inventive band, but they are an enthusiastic one, and that energy goes a long way toward making Blood on the Wall so entertaining. A key part of the band's appeal is the contrast between the voices of brother-and-sister singers Ben and Courtney Shanks: Ben's reedy pipes and bordering-on-hysterical delivery are both atonal and oddly melodic at the same time, recalling Gordon Gano, Richard Hell, and a young Black Francis at different moments. Courtney's singing, meanwhile, is whispery and deadpan in the style of famously bored indie rock vocalists like Kim Gordon and Georgia Hubley; the quiet of her voice makes the chaos going on around her seem even more so, particularly on "When You Go Out Walking" and the sassy "Good Boys." The diversity of the Shanks' voices could make Blood on the Wall seem like the work of two different bands, were it not for the shambolic joy that ties the band's music together (albeit loosely). Even the album's quieter tracks, such as the lo-fi dub of "On the Mouth" and the appealingly lackadaisical "Running and Cheating," feel like they could fall apart at any moment, but that's part of what gives Blood on the Wall its charm. A coltish feeling, equally wobbly and exciting, runs through the album, particularly on "Mae Abiline," "Pretty, Pretty," and "Witches' Teeth." Blood on the Wall is very much a debut album, but the band and the album both have an undeniable sense of fun and energy that speeds over any of their slight stumbles.

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