EP: Bleach Lab – Nothing Feels Real review

By Phil Scarisbrick

Emotionally captivating and melodically magnetic, the South London group’s second EP builds on the promise of their debut with stunning results

Emotional resonance is hardly a new idea in music. In fact, you could argue that the whole point of music is to create an empathetic tone for whatever feelings the composer and artist are trying to invoke or convey. Sometimes, though, an act can go careering down a worm hole to the point that the listener isn’t a mere spectator in their narrative, but is fully immersed in it. For South London band, Bleach Lab, their debut EP – A Calm Sense of Surroundingwas one such example. Channelling the feelings of grief that were thrust upon bassist, Josh Longman, after the loss of his father, you were instantly taken in and exposed to an examination of the grieving process, and the lasting effects it can have on a person.

While new release, Nothing Feels Real, is broader in the way it studies its subject matter, the results are no less hard hitting for the listener. Lead single, Real Thing, is a real ear worm of a track that will have you humming it to yourself relentlessly for hours after each play (this writer can confirm this as fact). Another recent single, Violet Light, is equally as melodically magnetic – with its Johnny Marr-evoking guitars and soaring vocal creating a captivating dynamic that really takes of as Jenna Kyle sings, ‘Why did he go and do things that way? / Left behind his son and his mum outlived his age’.

The EP’s closer, Then I Know, feels less ‘produced’ than other songs on the record, but is all the better for it. The loose sounding drums feel like they struggle to get going, perfectly fitting the tone of a track where our narrator has all their positivity stripped by somebody peeling back their sunlit exterior to reveal a truth far more nefarious. ‘In my mind, I know it doesn’t feel right / In my heart I had a feeling you might / Turn it round and make out it’s my fault / But feeling sad sometimes isn’t a fault’,  sings Kyle, as reality bites hard.

When a band is in the infancy of their life as recording musicians, the minimum you should expect from them is to see growth from one release to the next. For Bleach Lab, this would be no mean feat given the standards that they set themselves on A Calm Sense of Surrounding. Not only have they achieved this, but they have also in doing so created one of the most melodically pleasing, yet emotionally captivating sets of songs of the year. Those two key components would be enough to warrant your time individually, but in combination they create songs for which you are worse off for not experiencing them. Ignore Bleach Lab at your peril.

Check out our exclusive interview with Bleach Lab in Zine 11 – details here.

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