blanket – ‘Modern Escapism’

By Sean Reid

On their 2018 debut full-length, ‘How To Let Go’, North West outfit blanket provided their own take on cinematic post-rock that ebbed and flowed with grace. Through crafting a majestic set of songs, the Blackpool based group lived up to the potential of their debut EP – 2017’s ‘Our Brief Encounters’.

Three years on, blanket return with their second full-length. ‘Modern Escapism’ sees the quartet expand their sound, becoming muscular while maintaining a cinematic anchor. Within seconds of ‘White Noise’, you’re greeted with pounding drums and distorted guitars. These metallic tendencies appear throughout the record, providing urgency and contrasting the ethereal moments.

Throughout the album, blanket show their ability to blend post-rock, shoegaze, and metal into one. For example, ’Romance’ begins with Aiden Baldwin’s domineering drums and Bobby Pook’s scream before settling down with atmospheric guitars that gradually build to a pulsating conclusion.

Its clear song structure and execution is something Pook, Baldwin, guitarist Simon Morgan, and bassist Matthew Sheldon take great pride in. Tracks such as ‘Firmament’ and the stirring ‘Burial’ pull you in compellingly. ‘Firmament’ starts out gently with distant guitars, gentle piano keys, and harmonious vocals providing a dainty moment of reflection, whereas the wonderful ‘Violence’ offers a late highlight with stirring and layered execution.

Another notable difference to ‘Modern Escapism’ is the addition of vocals. ‘How to Let Go’ saw Pook’s voice be used sparingly, fitting into the post-rock mould. Despite the increased use here, Pook’s vocals have a tendency to get lost in the mix. He’s often battling for attention against Baldwin’s towering blasts (see ‘The Last Days of the Blue Blood Harvest’), or soaring hazy guitars (‘Where The Light Takes Us’). More so, it affects the narrative that sounds so promising on paper. It’s one that confronts our relationship with modern technology, and our obsession with other people’s lives. Unfortunately, blanket’s musical density spoils the concept from fully delivering.

Although blanket’s storytelling gets lost lyrically in translation, they’re still able to retain a cinematic quality to their musicianship. For every bombastic and escalating cut (‘In Awe’ featuring Loathe’s Kadeem France), there are moments such as ‘The Mighty Deep’ and ‘Silent Ground’ that softly rein things in. When they’re accompanied by stirring musical density, like on the Deftones-esque ‘Where The Light Takes Us’, ‘Modern Escapism’ becomes a rewarding listen.

While some may find blanket to be a different band on ‘Modern Escapism’, the transition from (mostly) instrumental post-rock to fully-formed cinematic rock band has been done seamlessly, their subtle use of grandeur maintaining that previous cinematic quality. By combining it with a dense sound palette, it’s allowed blanket to expand their potential. ‘Modern Escapism’ isn’t perfect, yet leaves you excited to what blanket can do going forward.

SÊAN REID

Three more album reviews for you

THECITYISOURS- 'COMA'

Every Time I Die - 'Radical'

Don Broco - 'Amazing Things'