Music can make big, bold statements, make obvious moves and play predictable cards but it is at its finest, in my opinion at least, when it is employing subtler and more supple techniques to engage the listener. That, is exactly what Saints of Bliss do with All or Nothing. It runs between folk-pop balladry and more select indie lines but its impact is never found in the weight of the music, instead it uses emotive vocal deliveries and poignant lyricism, evocative and unexpected shifts in the chord progressions and the slow laying on of musical texture.
By the end of the song you find that you have traversed an understated piece of polished indie-pop, but the shifting of musical gears, the dynamic builds and drops are so smoothly done that you never noticed the acceleration, never felt the gradual application of pressure to the musical throttle.
Indie as a genre has been pretty well defined for a while now. Having evolved from its original political meaning within the music industry to become a genre label in its own right, it generally indicates pop aware melody and musical adroitness, that fine line between commerciality and underground cool, between accessibility and integrity, directness and deft creation. But what does the indie band of 2018 do to stand out from the pack? Well, I’m glad you asked….
One answer is to do what Saints of Bliss have done. Forget warping the genre and kicking down generic barricades, and cross-pollinating your sound with the tricks and trappings of other genres to gene-splice indie into some sort of modern musical Frankenstein’s monster isn’t the answer either. It isn’t about subverting expectations, it is about feeding them. It is about doing what the rest of the pack do but just doing it so much better. Underline – so much better. And that is exactly what All or Nothing sounds like. It sounds familiar but a vast improvement on what most other bands working in the same territory have offered so far, which I guess is the definition of a classic, or in this case a future classic.
It is an exquisite blend of folk’s soft edges and emotive connectivity, pop’s accessibility and indie’s effortless cool, neither genre trying to steal the show and the result is a wonderfully clever combination of all the best bits of each genre and a song that seems to wander easily across those sonic boundaries without even being aware it is doing so.