Brilliance in the Darkness
'Welcome To My DNA' is the third studio album from Blackfield, which features Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, No Man) and Israeli artist Aviv Geffen.
The best way to approach Blackfield is not to draw comparisons or expect similarities with either Porcupine Tree or Geffen's solo work. That's not to say there aren't similarities at times but in the main Blackfield focus much more on traditional song structures with more focus on pop sensibilities. 'Welcome To My DNA' continues very much where the preceding two albums left off, a collection of regular length songs that retain an overall feel of melancholy but that do feature uplifting melodies. Opening track 'Glass House' is the perfect example of that, simple but effective chord progressions with a vocal melody from Wilson that switches between light and dark.
I confess that I don't find Blackfield particularly easy to get into, despite the simplified song structures. It takes several listens before the songs start to make their mark and there are the odd few that don't really do much for me but overall the effort is worth the reward. On this album however there are some fabulous moments where everything comes together perfectly, the last minute of 'Go to Hell' making the case early on.
Geffen and Wilson share vocal duties and the contrast between their voices works well, giving the respective songs on which they sing a slightly different feel. The production is sparse when it needs to be to emphasise the dark undercurrent but equally lavish when the need arises to create a fuller more rounded sound. 'Blood' is perhaps the best example of this with its eastern sounding and slightly heavier main riff and vocal harmonies, the production and string arrangements lifting it to another level.
'Zigota' is a reworking of a Geffen solo track but it fits into the track listing well and leads into final track 'DNA', a fairly downbeat song that ensures that the album finishes with a good dose of the aforementioned melancholy. With only two of the tracks here extending beyond the four minute mark you do occasionally find yourself wishing they would go on longer, particularly when the melodies and arrangements are in full flow. 'Welcome To My DNA' is not a departure in style from either of the first two albums and in that sense if you liked those then you will find plenty to like here and equally, if this is your first Blackfield album then you'll find it a good introduction.
A solid album with some really fine moments that demonstrates Wilson and Geffen's ability to craft radio friendly pop songs, whilst still retaining an alternative and dark undercurrent.