Making their debut with this album, Blood Red Saints take their name from a 1920s racing team. This does a nice job of setting up their throwback rock style (though it’s not as interesting as an imitation ’20s rock might have been). The album shows little pretension, instead limiting itself to trying to make ’80s arena rock work in the year of our Lod, 2015, with all the noodling guitar, ebullient vocals, and insipid lyrics you might expect from that designation. Like High Spirits, Blood Red Saints carefully follow the blueprints laid out by bands such as Night Ranger, seemingly believing that something which worked once has to still have an audience out there. Presumably there are concerts and festivals looking to book just this sort of easy-swallow rock, but it feels as though BRS‘ real bread and butter will be in serving as fodder to fill the air-time of radio stations needing rock which stays safe and predictable.
Having established that there’s very little merit to the music’s substance, it should be acknowledged that the band does bring it together about as well as could be desired. Harmonization, relative levelling of the instruments in the mixing, and the structuring of the songs are all passably competent (and the guitarist does seem to be having fun). The problem is that it just doesn’t add up to anything that wasn’t done to death decades ago. To make things worse, it’s now slathered with either cynical assessment or wild miscalculation of what listeners want in 2015.
If you do have a soft spot in your brain for ’80s arena rock, it should also be pointed out that the level of fire on display with this album makes Cinderella seem ballsy. Songs lean much more towards ballads than full-on power chord abandon, to the extent that perhaps the best possible outcome for the band would be that the album gets them so much success that they develop self-destructive drug and alcohol habits, leading to some less poppy material. Then again, with the near-Christian-rock levels of pouty positivity reached by some of the songs here (“Love Set Me Up Again”, for example, or “The Best Thing”, or “Wrapped Up In These Arms”, or…), that path seems too improbable to bother hoping for it with any seriousness.
If it’s not clear by now, I have no reason to recommend this album to anyone, unless you need a really passive-aggressive gift for the holidays. If you want any sense of genuine rebellion in your rock, instead of something that sounds as though it was manufactured with fingers crossed for some product endorsement deals, look elsewhere.
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