Australia’s Blank Realm has released their third album, Go Easy. This foursome (three-quarters of which are siblings) has a sound that is reminiscent of Sonic Youth or a messy Pixies with punk leanings. This album is interesting, there’s a lot of repetition but also a lot of subtle variation that requires an attentive ear. Though much of the album can sound unruly, repeated patterns and elements show that Blank Realm has full control over the eight tracks and can reign in the noise when they want.
Somehow, Go Easy manages to repeat without being repetitive. The lyrics or melody in each song repeat over and over, and these are fairly long songs so a few lines of lyrics repeat a lot (“Pendulum Swing” is over eight minutes long.) About halfway through “Cleaning Up My Mess” I started wishing that I’d never have to hear “love, will you clean up my mess again?” again, but then it broke into a dreamy synth break where the guitar broke from the melody it had been repeating and suddenly I was ready for another round of “love, will you clean up my mess again?” being repeated for another verse (which was helpful because that’s what came next.) Though elements of each song repeat for each entire long track, there are changes (which are sometimes subtle) to some of the instruments that make the repetition tolerable. If you’re paying attention, the songs have plenty of variation.
The title of “Pendulum Swing” would suggest that there is a steady back-and-forth movement in the song and there is, only that each time the pendulum swings into an instrumental break, it goes farther into wild, uncontrolled territory. It starts with a guitar melody that repeats throughout the song, but each instrumental break builds in intensity until the end features crashing percussion and big, fuzzy, distorted guitar riffs. Between the breaks it returns to the controlled guitar and vocals, creating the back-and-forth pendulum motion. “Acting Strange,” the opening track, is a toe-tapping, almost frantic song with uneven elements that suggest a connection to a frazzled inner thoughts that might cause a person to act strange. “Cleaning Up My Mess” features pretty, calming synth that bring floating to mind. As the lyrics ask for a love to “clean up my mess again,” perhaps the singer is just floating through, leaving others to deal with his problems. “Working on Love” is infectious. “The Crackle, Pt. 2” is where the album lost me. Though it blends into the synth and bass-driven “Pt.1,” it’s quite different. It’s a collection of noises, including high-pitched guitar screeches, held together by a repetitive cowbell. Maybe the song just needed more cowbell, but it seemed to include too much noise.
The key to listening to this album is to pay attention. There were times when Go Easy could sound noisy or repetitive, but there is actually detail and variation going on. This is not a good background noise album, it takes attention to truly appreciate everything that Blank Realm has put into this record.