Blunda is a kind of artists for whom the “New Artist Highlight” tag is a misnomer, as he’s been making music longer than most of YEDM’s punters have been alive. Beginning younger as a classical pianist, Andy Blunda performed guitar and keyboard within the excessive profile indie bands Fastball and Paloalto within the 90s and early 00s. After that, Blunda stayed energetic in Hollywood, composing soundscapes for motion pictures and tv till he bought the inspiration to go solo in 2014. With a particular model each in his guitar work and phrases of manufacturing, many listeners could really feel like they’ve heard him earlier than his most up-to-date album Brighter Days, even when they know nothing of his solo work; along with his intensive rap sheet, they possible have.
Messages was Blunda’s first solo EP and it introduced this distinctive sound with classic synths impressed by late 80s new wave and compositions which hearken indie vibes from the identical period. The guitar work is all Blunda, nevertheless, and in tracks just like the title observe and “If You Need Me,” that extraordinary guitar work elevates the sound from type of throwback indie to actually his personal ultra-cool ambient indie rock.
On the shoegazey borders of dream pop, each this distinctive guitar sound and ambient sound design continued to develop for Blunda in his subsequent EP, 2020’s Pulling For You, which had much more synth and piano work up entrance. Blunda additionally experimented extra with vox manipulation right here in tracks like “Low.” There’s a powerful jazzy part on this EP as effectively, and Blunda typically skirts the sting of grownup contempo however lands firmly within the Tom Waits finish of submit punk resulting from his tonal buildings and compositions being so effortlessly cool.
Brighter Days, which launched in late June, appears to be the place Blunda has discovered a steadiness for all of the completely different components in his earlier releases. Blunda says he went into this mission with the intention of capturing the vitality of lockdown, each the depth and the malaise; the type of muted vibes in addition to the hope for, effectively, “brighter days.”
This album got here out of eager to creating an area and feeling that might transport the listener. I discovered myself occurring tons of hikes this previous 12 months with my son and exploring all these superb locations simply outdoors of town. I actually wished to create one thing that gave the sensation of being in all these extensive open areas. Particularly after all of the lockdowns of the final couple of years.
The significance outside area performs in therapeutic can also be very a lot mirrored in the way in which every particular person observe strikes in Brighter Days, in addition to how the entire album flows. Within the opening tracks “Starting” and “Misplaced With out You,” that type of muted, golden hour sense of peace in nature comes via by way of the sound design, composition and vocals. These two are performed so effectively when it comes to vibe that they may very well be put collectively and easily known as “Elysium” (not the movie) as they match the tones and feeling of the album cowl: peaceable, a bit fuzzy and on the similar time therapeutic and heart-rending.
From these first two extra shoegazey tracks, Brighter Days strikes into the extra dream pop facet of issues by way of with “Belong to Me,” which is a transition observe or types, “Tape Pad,” “Ever Since” and “Open,” that are a bit extra peak dream pop blended with submit punk, a’la Washed Out. The all-instrumental penultimate music “Bm” is a nod to Blunder’s clear-by-now love of submit punk whereas “Gentle On” closes the album because it started: peak shoegaze.
The rationale all these types are essential is the afore-mentioned journey the album intends to take. It’s additionally extremely technically troublesome to take mentioned journey with so many types. Blunda accomplishes this with sound design, delicate, grunge-and-shoegaze-tinted vocals and comparable, Moogy synths all through, although the vapor wave on the finish in “Gentle On” is a enjoyable shock. His technical mastery is on full show with Brighter Days as is his musical EQ, creating sturdy emotional reactions with every observe, whether or not it has vocals or not. It may be unusual to say, after practically 30 years within the enterprise, that Brighter Days is Blunda’s seminal work, however given how sturdy a piece it’s, that may really be true. Right here’s hoping he retains constructing much more vivid soundscapes from right here.