Blues Pills – “Holy Moly!” (Nuclear Blast Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Probably best known for single-handedly bringing 60s / 70s blues soul rock back to the fore in recent years, the rise of Blues Pills has been nothing short of meteoric. Since their charting self-titled debut in 2014, they’ve been on a relentless touring circuit that saw them play Sweden Rock, Rock Hard and the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival in the same year. Releasing sophomore “Lady In Gold” in 2016, followed by more touring and playing festivals in the summer in North America and Europe, the endless wave of gigging culminated in the live release, “Lady in Gold – Live in Paris” the following year. Then it all went quiet for this young band. Call it a break, call it a burnout, but whatever the case, guitarist Dorian Sorriaux departed Blues Pills, prompting Zack Anderson’s move to guitar from his bass duties, as well as the recruitment of a new 4 stringer in Kristoffer Schander. Now, in “Holy Moly!” the band have exploded again, opening with the incendiary ‘Proud Woman’ that funks and wails as vocalist Elin Larsson adds the spirited soul of Aretha Franklin to her already formidable singing arsenal including, not in the least, Janis Joplin. By the time we get to ‘Dreaming My Life Away’, Anderson’s power riffs, stoner grooves and teasing wails backed by Schander’s bass rumblings and André Kvarnström’s smashing drums really ignite the music to keep up with the immense vocal power of Larsson, whose fire and moving passion are nothing short of transfixing on this superb track. With a laid-back touch, ‘California’, where back in 2011 Anderson met Larsson before forming Blues Pills, has all the hippy sunshine and flower power feelgood to bring back all those loving memories as the incredible vocalist hits the emotional highs backed by plenty of tender soul sister harmonies and to cap it all off brilliantly, Anderson’s own touching guitar tones that Haight-Ashbury would be proud of. Closing out this hugely passionate release, mixed incidentally by Grammy Award winning Andrew Scheps (think Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Beyoncé, Green Day, U2 followed by many more of the greatest) is the power ballad ‘Song From A Mourning Dove’, opening to ethereal piano, Anderson’s melancholic guitar wails and Larsson’s delicate croons before firing off with so much spirit and passion I’d need to move to the Arctic to cool down as the amazing interaction between these two melted my heart to tear welling joy time and again – I mean, that’s all I can say, cos I’m all used up….so call it a break, call it a burnout, but I prefer to call it a reincarnation for Blues Pills.