It’s been quite a year for Blues Pills, especially given how much female-fronted blues rock seems to be everywhere at the moment. Their excellent “Devil Man” EP laid down a gauntlet as far as ’60/’70s-inspired blues/occult rock was concerned and although the stopgap “Live at Rockpalast” EP didn’t fully show off what the band were capable of in terms of chosen songs, it did at least keep up interest in a full-length album, which has now hit thanks to Nuclear Blast.
If the aforementioned “Devil Man” EP whet your appetite for more then this self-titled debut doesn’t disappoint as everything that you already know and expect from the band is here, only longer and more coherent. You’ll already be familiar with tracks like the hymn-like ‘River’ and ‘Devil Man’ but these album versions aren’t quite so direct and are more infused with a folk-like vibe and a sense of restraint, as if the preceding EP was a quick fix but this album is more of an experience to take your time with and soak up in the privacy of your own hammock.
The more ethereal approach allows the intricacies that may have been missing from previous releases to be more apparent and upfront, meaning that Blues Pills aren’t just the Elin Larsson show (an accusation that has been thrown their way) and that the three musicians have as much identity as their leather-lunged singer. For example, ‘Astralplane’ hits like a Jimi Hendrix/Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac jam session but shows off what a tight rhythm section bassist Zack Anderson and drummer Cory Berry are, with soul and funk influences weaving in and out of the rolling rhythms as guitarist Dorian Sorriaux plays the blues over the top of it all.
’60-style blues rock may appear to be the fad of the moment as every other band popping up seems to sound like Janis Joplin, Blue Cheer or Jefferson Airplane but there’s no denying that Blues Pills are the real deal – a band that pays homage to their musical roots but never directly imitates, instead feeling the music rather than copying and that is the difference. Like its influences, “Blues Pills” is an album that will stand the test of time and sound as vital and sublime in years to come as it does now. It was worth waiting for.