Though the Hope Blister is technically a continuation of 4AD founder Ivo Watts-Russell's project This Mortal Coil, its small, steady lineup of musicians and focus on covers sets it apart from his previous project. ...smile's ok, the Hope Blister's 1998 debut, takes this seemingly restrictive concept and integrates it into the larger 4AD vision, thanks to the return of former This Mortal Coil vocalist Louise Rutkowski and the album's versions of labelmates' songs. Heidi Berry's "Only Human" and "Dagger" by Neil Halstead (of Slowdive and the label's own Mojave 3) receive new readings, while "Is Jesus Your Pal," by Iceland's Slow Blow, was also covered by the label's Gus Gus. "Sweet Unknown," written by the similarly ethereal Cranes, is also remade on ...smile's ok. The album's sparse instrumentation, which includes Laurence O'Keefe's subtle bass and Audrey Riley's cello playing and string arrangements, conveys great emotion with little clutter. For Watts-Russell and crew, as well as 4AD, the Hope Blister is a natural progression, and a welcome one.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares