Blackfield IV


Kscope, 2013

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Blackfield reached its creative peak on their debut record. Since then, there has been a steady decline in their music. Every new album has been weaker than the previous one – exponentially so, since Welcome To My DNA. Maybe it is Steven Wilson slowly pulling away from the band, and that two great musicians at the helm are better than one in Blackfield’s case. This brings us to my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Blackfield IV, which, beyond question, is the group’s weakest effort, and not-so-coincidentally one in which Wilson has contributed the least. Wilson mixed this album and also sang on it. But it is his participation as a songwriter that is direly missed.

This is the first Blackfield album that features guest singers, and the roster is nothing if not impressive: Vincent Cavanagh of Anathema, Brett Anderson of Suede, and Jonathan Donahue of Mercury Rev. The presence of these fine singers, however, does not do much to make the album any more special, as the best songs are still the ones sung by Aviv Geffen and Steven Wilson: “Springtime,” “Lost Souls,” “Pills,” and “Jupiter.”

Nevertheless, these star guest vocalists do make the album very interesting. It seems as if each song was written specifically for the singer singing it, and bears the personality of the singer’s band: “The Only Fool Is Me” (sung by Jonathan Donahue) is whimsical and ornate; “X-Ray” (sung by Vincent Cavanagh) is melodic and emotional; and “Firefly” (sung by Brett Anderson) is noir and psychedelic. These tracks, alongwith the electronic music influenced “After The Rain,” make this the most diverse Blackfield record.

Blackfield IV is still a quintessential Blackfield album, ruled by emotionally drenched and slickly packaged short melodious pop songs that would certainly please the fanbase, at least to a certain extent. This album does feel like a total dud on the first listen, but becomes much more likeable as one gets more acquainted with it. However, you won’t be swept off your feet by it, that’s for sure.

Rating: C+

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