AU ABROAD

The Blood Arm - Turn And Face Me (2011 LP)

Los Angeles' own indie-rockers The Blood Arm return with their third studio venture, Turn And Face Me presenting a savage smattering of high-octane tunes. As such, it's a fairly straightforward album that begins to drag before eventually breaking free from a slew of academic first impressions.

Opener "She's A Guillotine" sprints into earshot with sharp gasps before exploding with fun-loving surf-rock frivolity. Truthfully, not only is it difficult not to get caught up in the song's enthusiastic fanfare, Turn And Face Me really does promise much in its early stages. The monotony that proceeds to unfold, however, is to the album's detriment. Whilst the record's second track, "I Need You", finds yet another gear and effectively intensifies an already frenzied album, it does little to build upon the foundations of the opener. Matters are made worse when "Relentless Love" provides little respite from the band's obnoxious energy. Combined with "Introducing Randy Newman" - a cheesy synth-laced slice of pop-rock bearing the same insistence - the first third of Turn And Face Me feels like an excercise in variations on a theme. The Blood Arm's self-styled rock sounds flippant and unadventurous, playing in the shallows with a less than emphatic introduction.

Fortunately, The Blood Arm embark on a stunning recovery, as the midsection of Turn And Face Me fills out to show shows signs of maturity. For the most part, the band scale back the abrasive bluster of the album's beginnings, with the refined "Friends For Now" emerging as a perfect example of their calculated pop prowess. The bittersweet yet entirely electric chorus of "Friends For Now" grants the album its first truly memorable melody, as The Blood Arm's endeavours begin to breed infectious pop-rock. "Temporary Woman" paints a piano-fueled pomposity reminiscent of "I Am The Walrus", resulting in a clever head-nodding groove complete with a hand-clap breakdown. The defiant anthem of "The Creditors" sees the band get self-referential (quoting "Suspicious Character") as it becomes obvious that the crucial middle of Turn And Face Me has left its formative material for dust.

In the final third of the album, The Blood Arm's material levels out considerably, pulling every element of Turn And Face Me together to ensure a solid conclusion. In giving Turn And Face Me a spin, it becomes obvious that there's no quelling The Blood Arm's spirit. However, their intensity yields only sporadic success, with a frustrating monotony the ultimate promise. If anything the band's latest endeavours express value in restraint, its absence occasionally proving wearying and cumbersome. It really is a task just to keep up with The Blood Arm's boundless energy, which is something they should aim to avoid in their next studio venture lest they risk boredom. Ultimately, Turn And Face Me proves an enjoyable yet utterly frivolous record that might have benefited from a dash of variety.

Review Score: 7/10