Blackfield, the return
Blackfield release their fifth album, the imaginatively titled Blackfield V and the follow up to er... Blackfield IV. This is the project collaboration between one time Porcupine Tree main man Steven Wilson and Israeli pop superstar Aviv Geffen.
This is a return to full collaboration after Wilson took a back seat on the previous album. Whilst Geffen has written most of the songs on V, the return of Wilson's influence is evident. After a brief orchestral intro the album launches into the excellent Family man. This, coupled with the following track How Was Your Ride? capture everything that is great about Blackfield; great melodies, sweeping string arrangements and delicious chord changes all combine to make this an extremely impressive opening.
As you may expect with any Steven Wilson offering, the production is excellent. The guitar never dominates and that's a key to the Blackfield sound, everything combines to create fairly unique sound. Geffen takes lead vocals on We'll Never Be Apart and the marked difference between this and many of the songs on IV is that his vocals really push through, where previously they have been a little weak at times.
The album still retains that underlying melancholy that has been evident throughout their career to date, particularly on tracks like October and Salt Water but V features some gloriously uplifting moments that add welcome variety and make this a pretty complete album that it's hard to fault. There are more upbeat songs than we've been used to and with only two of the thirteen tracks going over four minutes, it's accessible and it all adds to the overall effect. Being loosely based around the concept of the ocean provides an additional focus and drive that combine to make this probably the best Blackfield album to date.
If you were to make a 'best of' Blackfield album, it's fair to say that there are at least three or four tracks from V that would make the cut, that's how good it is. The only track that seems slightly out of place is Lonely Soul, which sounds like it was lifted from a Moby album with its chilled vibe and female vocal. The album closes with one of only two Wilson penned songs on the album From 44 to 48 and predictably it's another strong song reminiscent of his solo work.
The mark of any good album is that you want to play it again as soon as it's finished and that's exactly what you want to do with V.