Italians Blume (named after the Einstürzende Neubauten song) have been making their dark synthpop infused futurepop for a decade, steadily building a fanbase with previous albums Rise of Gray (2010) and Autumn Ruins (2013). Ashes is their third full length release, the first they have released via WTII Records.
The album opener sets the scene for what is to come, with the oscillating and undulating, yet catchy “Iron Age”. This is followed by “Scarlet” which is punchier and stompier than the former, while still maintaining Blume’s characteristic melancholy. “Scarlet”, and many other on this album, has the dichotomy of a ‘pop’ hook combined with an overall sad lyrical theme, which was typical of much early to mid 2000 EBM/futurepop. This is something not to be seen as outdated, when it is done this well. Pride and Fall ‘esque’ “Blackening” was released as a single early in 2018, and as such is a standout track on Ashes. However, when it comes to potential dancefloor hit status, personally it is surpassed by “Fade Away”, which comes on full force with industrial beats and urgent vocals, while the beat takes you away….
It is so refreshing to hear new music like this being released in 2018. Even the more chilled “Desolation Road” maintains the ear. “Ajax” refers to the mythological Greek hero, and has a strong vocal melody intertwined with trance vibes. In a similar style to futurepop pioneers Covenant, but still unmistakably Blume. “Nightmare” is more dancefloor focused, and would have me up on the dancefloor with it’s transcendental chorus and solid 130 BMP. “Spleen” follows with a similar style, before “Ideal” closes a spectacular album.
At a time when futurepop is being considered by some to be an outdated and overdone genre, Blume release an album which unashamedly encompasses the genres main stylistic characteristics, gives it a polish and adds an unmistakably ‘Blume’ shine. Comparing one artist to another is lazy, but if you love Pride and Fall, Assemblage 23, Covenant and VNV Nation this is the album for you. If you miss lyric driven, hypnotic danceable futurepop, this album will make your ears happy, and get you moving.
Due to the consistent quality of each song I am making Ashes my futurepop album of 2018. I have listened to this album right through many times in 2018, sometimes with it looping back to start again. It is very listenable and can suit various moods, from chilled to party. There is no song which makes me want to skip or turn off this album. 5/5