reviewed by Michael Thomas
It’s been a long time—I’ve finally found a thoroughly top-to-bottom fun rock and roll album. J Blissette, the alter ego of Jackson Tiefenbach, previously made some appearances on the blog with two 2017 singles, “Love Letter” and “A Series of Observations,” both of which appear on Until I Go Blind. They were good ideas of what to expect from a full-length.
Put simply, the album is exhilarating. It’s rock and roll driven by youth and recklessness, but just enough glam and occasionally sneering detachment to prevent the album from being a casualty of excess. The album starts off by sounding a little Japandroids-y (if the band had loosened up just a tad) with “Champagne Airplane” but quickly exudes a certain kind of coolness.
That coolness comes from Blissette’s perfectly disaffected tone of voice, like the way he sings “Some people find this jarring/I don’t care,” in “Charming.” The lyrics match perfectly with the slacker-pop vibes of the song. The aforementioned “A Series of Observations” begins with quick, sunny guitar and a story that starts with “I was drunk when it happened…”
Blissette is certainly at his best when his songs are roaring. “Out Too Far” contains perhaps the fastest guitar strumming of the album, but only for short bursts. Blissette appears to try to sing as fast as he strums. “Love Letter” is another excellent song because it moves so quickly.
There’s a few “quieter” moments on the album, like “Drunk in the Park.” It’s interesting to hear Blissette sing a little softly, and the sparser guitar is paired with the odd bit of grand-sounding percussion. “Don’t Assume” also feels quieter and a little darker.
On the last three songs of the album, Blissette gets expansive with songs beyond five minutes long. “Face the Wall” has such an excellent set of opening lyrics: “I wish I was a masochist and then I wouldn’t worry about it, except the politics.” And after a brief pause, Blissette just says “Cool” in the way someone might have said “Cool story, bro” in 2007. “What’s Next” is a seven-minute odyssey, starting with a repeating guitar riff and a melody that sounds like a song riding off into the sunset. Of course, it changes many times along the way.
Shake away your winter blues (and possibly whatever snow you have left) with this album. You’ll feel like donning a shirt as tropical as the one Blissette is wearing on the album cover.
Top Tracks: “Out Too Far”; “Love Letter”; “Face the Wall”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)