How do you follow up a great debut album? Well I suppose there are many ways. Maybe a soundtrack? Erik Blood choose to make a concept album about pornography. Don’t let the porn scare you off. It isn’t porn, it’s about porn. Touch Screens employs the same heightened pop sensibilities and collection of guitar pedals that were omnipresent in 2009’s The Way We Live while adding some new sounds to his arsenal.
Evidenced by the final song Better Days on The Way We Live that nimbly combined soul music with shoegaze, you knew that Blood was capable of transcending any tags one might place on his music. Touch Screens confirms that assumption, employing krautrock rhythms, industrial klang, power pop riffage and even some violins and violas to create a new shoegaze erotica. The records starts with a bit of foreplay in Phenomenal Pornography. A sad sounding viola that turns into a post-punk sounding guitar which rev’s and rev’s and then crashes into the beautiful strings of The Lonesome Death of Henry Paris. Those strings are quickly enveloped by a motorik pulse. Henry Paris aka Radley Metzger is known for his stylish ertotic films in the 1970’s…and so we dive into the golden age of pornography with Blood as our guide and soundtrack provider. Each songs is like a breadcrumb into the golden age of pornography. Constance and Casey will have you googling the movie Boys in the Sand and it will also allay your fears that Blood has eschewed shoegaze with its ear-bursting guitars.
The power pop riff of Shame Spots may be my favorite part of the record. If finds Blood in the video shop choosing the night’s entertainment, but eventually falling back to an old reliable VHS. It’s quickly followed by Today’s Lover which uses an industrial beat to emphasize the mechanical and coldness of current day porn and how engineered it is. There is probably some correlation you could draw between the pornography and music industries of the past and present. The coldness and isolation of accessing entertainment alone in zeroes and ones. Not so long ago you actually had to got to a theatre to watch porn, just ask Paul Reubens.
Touch Screens is an ode to pornography of a bygone era, but if you listened to it without looking at its cover you might never know it, which is a tribute to Blood’s artistry. It’s a concept album, but more importantly it’s a pop record that does not hold back – a barrage of undeniable hooks that come fast and hard and then come again. You nearly have to suspend belief, like it’s one of the movies that Blood is singing about.
stream: Erik Blood – Touch Screens
The vinyl version of Touch Screens is limited to 100 copies, so if you want one move on it now. It’s available direct from Erik Blood’s website.
If you are in Seattle, don’t miss Erik Blood’s record release show tonight (Thursday, 9 August) at the Crocodile.