Album Review: Night Beats, Sonic Bloom

The natural habitat of the Night Beats is in a cold, rainy alleyway in hometown Seattle or riding an ominously dark tour van or on a dark club’s stage. The natural habitat of the Night Beats is not in a recording studio; it’s been two years since we’ve gotten to hear new music from Seattle trio Night Beats but on September 24 the band released its sophomore album, Sonic Bloom.  

Sonic Bloom is exactly what anyone could hope for in a sophomore album. The band’s debut self-titled album relied on the pathos of the listener – the music struck an emotional chord with its unfaltering, wailing aggression. It was great. Sonic Bloom, however, engages the listener’s unfiltered emotion but also provides some complexity for our minds to ponder.  

By bringing a new multitude of influences in Sonic Bloom, Night Beats have created an album that develops, rather than simply reinvents, its earlier music. “Outta Mind” might be the album’s obvious single and for those already familiar with Night Beats, it might be the most reminiscent track on the album. It’s rough, emotive and just awesome but listen past the single to find Sonic Bloom’s real range.

After years of busily touring and sharing bills with varied artists, Night Beats seem to have taken some cues from stage-mates. There’s something distinctly Black Angels about “Rat King” (Lee Blackwell does play in UFO Club, a side project with Black Angels’ Christian Bland) and there’s something distinctly Zombies about the opening track “Love Ain’t Strange (Everything Else Is).” They even introduce a horn section in “At The Gates” giving it this slight feel of a 1920’s underground jazz club.

When all is said and done, however, the Night Beats haven’t shed an ounce of their original and mischievous glow – mischievous and somewhat hazy. It’s occasionally a challenge to distinguish between the screech of Lee Blackwell’s guitar and his voice – this is not a bad thing. The equalized reverberation of his two “instruments” throughout Sonic Bloom solidified the “Night Beats” sound. It’s bellicose by nature but it an oddly harmonious and dazed way.

From playing a hometown show with Ty Segall just a few weeks ago to jetting off to Europe, Nights Beats have been pretty busy. Check out the band’s stateside tour dates hereSonic Bloom is available via the Reverberation Appreciation Society (the group that puts on Austin Psych Fest, by the way).