Eight years into their existence Dirty Laces have this week released their debut album Blink For Nothing, the culmination of a journey from a bunch of lads seemingly without focus and a plan to a band with a clear vision and ambition about exactly how they want to sound. It's an impressive first full length collection of songs and testament to their steadfast belief in their music.
Single Midnight Mile sets down a marker as the album opener - this is a band intent of making music that represents them rather than trying to fit to any template. Big hooks and riffs abound with the vocals set back into the music, a breakdown that sounds like it comes from another song completely but still fits - there's little of the traditional verse / chorus / verse / chorus / breakdown / chorus that characterises the majority of young guitar bands. Old Friend is loose and fluid, more a jam than a song and this way of working flows naturally into Stop, one of the album's highlights, where guitars layer themselves atop Charlie's vocals which sound stronger and more confident than they've ever done.
The predominance of guitars isn't everywhere though. The gorgeous All I See takes the feet off the pedal and shows Dirty Laces' ability to control and master the pace of the song and give everything space to breathe and Charlie centre stage for the first couple of minutes before they pick up the pace and the song head rushes to its end. Another Day has a battered romantic vibe to it, a sense that everything will be alright in the end set to a tune that reins in their natural instincts to let loose but which creates a warmth and depth that's affecting.
Seeker is the closest to the early days of Dirty Laces but you can hear the muscle and power they've added over the years, the chorus soars and heads for the stratosphere. Wanna Know's chorus and verses could come from two different songs, but somehow they feel perfectly aligned, they've learned how to pack many ideas into three minutes without overcluttering and this song is probably the best example among the ten songs. That sense of bruised romanticism returns on Tomorrow Comes Again married to an unerring sense of purpose and control, the guitars and the vocals perfectly atuned to each other, the former lifting the song when it needs and the vocals offering a reassuring hand on the shoulder.
That Maybe isn't quite as successful at doing this as the rest of the album yet still hits the mark is a testament to the quality of Blink For Nothing. The album's high point though is its final track - fittingly called The Final Scene. Charlie demonstrates the range of his vocals as the song almost slips away into the ether at the end, whilst the pace and control the rest of the band exert is exquisite.
Blink For Nothing is a record you would never have imagined the scruffy looking kids with an Oasis fascination back in 2015/6 ever making. Often ignored by those with the keys to the industry they've continued to develop in their own time driven on by an overarching sense of self-belief, unafraid to explore the boundaries of their sound. Blink For Nothing is a genuine triumph that deserves your time and effort and leaving any preconceptions about them at the door.