London sextet Blue Bendy shift through the gears on debut EP ‘Motorbike’ via Practise Music.

To call it hardcore maximalism would be an understatement. They have become weirder and poppier then weirder and poppier.

Words: Brad Harris

Often, writing words about music never feels worthwhile. Everywhere you look the medium is rife with trite descriptions of whatever a shimmering guitar is and something about David Byrne. How can you (and ultimately what is even the point) in describing something that attempts to transcend its physical limitations, especially when those words just pull it back to Earth?

Sometimes, we are entirely enveloped by the world and all the people in it and sometimes we try to escape it. Blue Bendy are both at once. A world and an escape. Listening to them is an exercise in listening. It can be overwhelming; almost nothing is off-limits. It is the sonic equivalent of this:

Over a pint that didn’t actually happen singer Arthur Nolans tells me the music is a mix of the Grateful Dead, the Sonics, Eric B & Rakim, Tinariwen, This Mortal Coil, the Suzanne Vega, Underworld, Cilla Black, David Axelrod, the Smiths, Soul II Soul and Arctic Monkeys. Suddenly his eyes bulge out of his head as synth player Olivia mentions the important influence of reruns of Gogglebox.

Drunk on London Pride and a shared sense of unease we decide never to talk again.

To me they sound like the following:

  • A night walk in Spring
  • Despair
  • Asymmetry
  • Arto Lindsay
  • Beer made by monks
  • Religious mysticism
  • The cold
  • John Ashbery
  • Twitter
  • Love
  • Fresh washing
  • Kissing
  • Pavement the band
  • Pavement the surface

To call it hardcore maximalism would be an understatement. They have become weirder and poppier and weirder and poppier. One moment, Arthur will spit out words with nary a trace of irony, only to then fall into sly aphorisms and retorts. I must confess, as with most poets, half of the time I have no idea what he’s saying but I revel in its prettiness. The other half has been repeating itself in my head since my first initiation to the cult of Bendy many moons ago.

Harmonics, weird synth noises, mismatched harmonies, riffs that use the entire fretboard, it really is hard to pin them down and yet this jumble never comes across as an affront, but rather an invitation. Oft-times, skill can come across as pretentious or simply impenetrable, but with Bendy their natural virtuosities strike out with glee and strength, like a Grand Master fully in control of their practice. If this EP were a real motorbike, it would be a Triumph.