There's something quite unsettling about Blueprints. Even the rather beautiful violin introduction has an ominous feel to it. And then, after a minute or so, the band suddenly kick in and Ian Jenkins hollers "Doors get in the way" as if his life depends on it. Imagine Radiohead in one of their more difficult moments but with Heaven Up Here-era Bunnymen drums c/o Matthew Devenish. And then what sounds like a choir bursts in...this is bold stuff for sure.
Celluloid follows and is a more straightforward post-punk number that almost screams 1981 – think The Cure, Scars, Siouxsie & the Banshees, etc. There's angular guitars, Budgie-like percussion, and something of a killer bass riff. This would surely have been the single in the old days. You can almost hear John Peel's laconic tones booming in as it drifts dreamily to its conclusion.
Blink is a more sparse affair – initially at least. A solitary bass and rain-like effects accentuate the sense of isolation as Jenkins describes a stray dog he views from a window that drips with condensation. The track builds nicely with echoey guitar, clattery drums and bleeps, before we get a quick burst of guitar that is pitched somewhere Pete Townshend and Teenage Jesus' classic Orphans single.
Ropetrick finds Jenkins singing "My baby's got a stigma" over an almost ska beat and some fairground music you might hear in a horror film. Think of the bit in The Specials' Ghost Town where they veer from one side of the road to another and imagine that's the PG version and this is the 18. Yeah, that word "unsettling" springs to mind again! Fear Of Flying, meanwhile, features guitar that brings to mind John McKay-era Banshees whilst the vocals get more and more desperate as Jenkins sings "I don't wanna be here" in an almost Flowers Of Romance era-Lydon voice.
Personally, I'm less keen on Random and its vocodered vocals, although the lush sounding backdrop deserves a mention. Comfort Zone opens like a cross between the Cocteaus and the Bunnymen before things get rather more nightmarish, whilst Falling Star could be called the ballad of the album although, needless to say, it's a million miles away from Just The Way You Are.
Blueprints ends in a suitably ambitious manner. Gridlock is a twelve minute plus journey that features too many parts so summarise here, but I did jot "Faith-era Cure with added electronic" down at one point. Add ethereal noises, Peter Hook-like bass and some D&B-ish beats to the equation, and you should have some idea of what's in store. All in all, an interesting if challenging set that is likely to reward those prepared to give it time and attention.