Team Me – Blind As Night

Blind As NightTeam Me’s second album has epic ambition. From the 8 minute opener “Riding My Bicycle” onwards, Blind As Night is a pop album that’s not afraid to wear its progressive influences with pride. Sweeping string sections abound and the songs are openly anthemic. They even utilise a children’s choir on the record.

So, does it pay off?

Well, not entirely. A band with such grandiose aims can only be applauded. However too frequently, they don’t quite achieve them. This can make Blind As Night a frustrating album to listen to. It’s the sound of a band reaching for the stars, yet somehow never quite managing to grasp them.

The musical influences are obviously diverse. The songs are orchestral and theatrical. Yet, despite all that, the album feels safe. Too safe. There are few surprises, and few unpredictable twists and turns to break things up. While the album initially feels monumental in scale, that effect is lessened when you realise Team Me plan to stay at the same level throughout.

It’s the old prog trap. Without careful handling, prog influences can lead to majesty and pomp, but at the cost of never quite surpassing a feeling of superficiality. Too often it feels like that happens here. You find yourself wishing they’d extended their influences just a little bit more into the realms of psychedelic; the whimsy of early Pink Floyd, the raw edge of Love, the intimidating undertones of Hawkwind. Any of those would have hardened up this album's soft edges.

While this feels somewhat unfair with a band not singing in their native language, the lyrics go further towards highlighting these weaknesses. Far too often, they’re trite, even clichéd. While “Man-Eating Machine” has a great title - albeit one taken from Grace Jones - the lyrics are full of, “and so I ask myself is this all there is?” and, “oh how I believed in you”. The lyrics are deliberately emotive, but in a way that can feel calculating.

None of this is to say that Blind As Night is a bad album. One strong point in Team Me’s favour is that they have keen pop sensibilities and know how to put a good tune together. That salvages the album. It’s always a pleasant listen, even if it’s not the most exciting of albums. There’s also an obvious exception to most of what I’ve said. “Steven” is by far the stand-out track of the album. It’s stripped down compared to the other songs and is genuinely affecting. Lyrics like “previous suicides don’t scare me” insist that you sit up and pay attention. It’s a brilliant song, and an indication of how good Team Me could be, if they just gambled a little bit more.

This is an easy album to like - just not an easy album to love.

Release: 26th January 2015, Propeller

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