The Heavy Blinkers – [Album]

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

It might not sound like a glowing endorsement at first sight, but look at the following sentence twice and understand the compliment that it's meant to serve: “No band sets out to make an album like Health – The Heavy Blinkers' fifth album.” It is meant to compliment the effort, patience and care which was put into the record's crafting and to recognize how fine the results are;  Health is the sort of treasure which gets revealed to everyone eventually, and rightly so.

In Health's case, the record's gestation period was seven years. The whole thing started with a chorus of voices (according to legend) and grew from there; guest players joined the band and left and work continued, ideas came along and were eventually forgotten in the process too. On at least a couple of occasions, the speculations must have been that Health's recording process was less a labor of love and more of an obsession but, in listening, there's no question that the band's devotion to the project paid off; Health is a timeless record of unparallelled quality.

Listeners will find themselves smiling in satisfaction when they hear the jubilant strain of a vocal choir open up the proceedings on “As Long As You Have Your Health.” With a piano holding down the rhythm for a choir of what sounds like between twelve and fifteen voices, “As Long As You Have Your Health” conjures the image of walking in on a community group recital, and the results are as sweet as they are familiar; it's a beautiful place to start and it's also what makes the turn – at the forty-five second mark where major chords spontaneously evolve into minor ones and a string section begins to poke through with a fantastically composed and orchestrated oeuvre – so thoroughly unnerving. It is there that listeners get their first hint that there's much, much more to Health than they assumed. That impression is further set as the string composition continues into “Anna Karina, I Was Wrong,” and a winsome female voice warns of walking with the Unknown Soldier and watching sharks die off the coast. In that, there's no doubt there's no doubt Health is going to be epic, but it's even more exciting because no impression of a plan is made clear right away; there is no clear delineation made by The Heavy Blinkers in Health's early running, all listeners will be able to do is wonder as they buckle themselves in, almost as an involuntary reflex.

They won't know what's coming or where this ride may take them but, even early, listeners will be buckling in for the duration because they understand (somehow) that this is not a ride they'll want to miss.

…They might not know how the came aboard initially, but never once will listeners question why they came along for the ride with Health. Swirling but perfectly appointed compositions are the things which characterize songs like “Anna Karina,” “Child Of The Radio,” “God Bless Hazel,” “Perfect Tourists” and “Why Must You Hide Your Light?” (to name only a few of the most striking tracks) and listeners won't even be passably interested in trying to resist their charms as each plays out like a little operetta unto itself and then easily moves on to the next. All along the way, a small army of musicians (including – but certainly not limited to – names like Sondre Lerche, Ross Burns, Dale Murray and more) add extra color to each composition generously, and don't even sort of attempt to steal the show; as lush as the sonics on Health are, all of the performers take care to ensure that the spotlight never shutters away from the band's core line-up (Jenn Grant, Melanie Stone, Stuart Legere, Ellen Gibling, David Christianson, Adam Fine and primary composer Jason MacIsaac) – it's their show and always stays that way in this run-time.

After “Everything Is Magic” calls an end to Health in a perfectly tasteful and elegant way, listeners will be left to decide just what exactly they're holding in their hands as far as this album goes. It's difficult to call the disc a classic because, really, albums usually need a bit of time to season and grow into such a station – but this album feels like it's truly already there; Health may have taken seven years to finish, but the time was clearly well-spent as even one listen proves.


The Heavy Blinkers – Health – “Perfect Tourists” – [mp3]


Health will be released on July 30, 2013. Watch the band's official site for ordering information.

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