Blanket - Blankit

Tom Blackburn 08/10/2007

Rating: 4.5/5

It may surprise you to hear, but despite being such an, um, hot shot music hack, I do still have to buy my own records from time to time. One record I am particularly glad to have bought (and not just for the little handwritten note of thanks from guitarist Stephen Burch) is Blank It, the self-released debut album from London/Brighton folksters Blanket.

Fronted by captivating vocalist Vicky Steer, Blanket have delivered on the promise of their live performances and impressive debut EP with a delicate album of heart-rending late night laments and wide-eyed ballads, shot through with a daring experimental streak.

Opener 'Heaven Heaven Earth' is instantly entrancing, its broken-backed guitars gliding hypnotically over a barely-there programmed beat. Gentle licks of lap steel guitar and Steer's spellbinding vocals lend the song a dreamlike edge, like that confused state of mind that only comes first thing in the morning after a particularly long night.

And that's the beauty of this record - where it could be whimsical and frothy, it's dark and compelling. The almost-childlike vocals thinly disguise a fierce cynical wit - 'If you ever enforce, my love / I will divorce, my love / And that will be that' - whilst the guitar work is subtle and evocative.

'Clothes Horse' sees the band tackling country-fried blues, whilst the unsettling 'Off' shuffles along like something out of a particularly warped spaghetti western. The album's real showstopper, though, is the haunting 'Threats'. The whole song seems to hang together by a thread, with Steer's vocals despondent yet somehow hopeful ('You're throwing yourself at love / In the firm belief that you'll make it'), her icy delivery recalling Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval.

By turns intoxicating and beguiling, this is fascinating, intimate and accomplished record from an exceptional young band. For my money, Blankit is one of the best albums of 2007.