Blonds: The Bad Ones

Music Reviews
Blonds: The Bad Ones

If Lana del Rey and Florence Welch ever had a musical baby, it would be Blonds. With hearty melodrama and wrenching vocals, Cari Rae and Jordy Asher have created a force to be reckoned with. The Floridian dreampop duo first hit the music scene with their debut EP, Dark Roots, released last November. A true musical couple, both in production and the romantic sense, Blonds has returned with their first full-length album.

The Bad Ones opens with “Heartstrings,” a song wildly reminiscent of Etta James’ definitive love song, “At Last.” “Heartstrings” feels like the complimentary piece to Etta’s; where “At Last” is about finally finding love, “Heartstrings” is about waiting on it. “I know I’ll be seeing you soon/but for now I’m just stuck with the moon,” Cari Rae sings with heartbreaking precision. It’s a strong opener for the album, and it sets the dizzy, romantic vibe that will carry the entirety of The Bad Ones.

Yes, The Bad Ones is an album filled with sweet love and crushing heartbreak. Love, just be good to me, because I really want to mean something tonight and every time you hold me, I’m falling like an angel. Its message may run together, but its sound from song to song varies enough to make things interesting. Back-to-back tracks like “Time” and “Mr. E” are vastly different from each other, yet neither feels out of place. “Mr. E” is dark and suspicious, with beats almost reminiscent of a spy film. The slow roll of “Time” is alluring for its sleepy vocals and twinkling instrumentals.

The album ends with a bang. “Locomotion” is Florence fire; it demonstrates Cari’s range and really drives home her vocal resemblance to indie rock’s favorite redhead. Strangely enough, its energy is felt nowhere else on the album. The song could be left off entirely, and The Bad Ones would still feel complete.

The comparison that opens this review, comparing Blonds to combination of Lana del Rey and Florence Welch is either a flattering or a damning one, depending on how you view both artists. The music of Blonds is dark and dramatic, sometimes heavily so, but they have an uncanny energy to back it up. As a stand-alone piece, The Bad Ones is good. My first listen found it interesting; a second firmly cemented its lyrics and hazy beats in my head. But a third began to reveal its similarity to so many other indie pop and rock bands out there, and every subsequent hearing has only driven that message even further home. I wouldn’t call Blonds a clone band, but I would say they feel familiar.

The Bad Ones isn’t an album that’s going to blow your mind or define your summer. But it is a pleasant thing to have for a long drive, or as a CD you might occasionally pull from your shelf at the right time.

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