“Keep choosing me/ I’ll keep choosing you/ You know that you could kill our love/ And so could I,” Khaela Maricich bemoans over the trip-hop leaning creep of “Not Dead Yet”. Written and recorded with girlfriend Melissa Dyne, the gloomy serenade offers a candid look at a tumultuous relationship, and landing at the commencement of fall, is mixed-filling fodder for rescuing sputtering summer romances. Now seven years removed from the acclaimed Paper Television (which featured Jona Bechtolt of YACHT), the tone of The Blow’s new self-titled LP trades club-ready exuberance for a sobering dose of mature reflection.
Establishing the bridge to the struggle shared in penultimate cut “Not Dead Yet”, the album opens with the interpersonal security of “Make It Up” and “A Kiss”. Reflected in the tracks’ electro-pop sheen, these are beats and lyrics composed at the height of ecstasy; the duo of Dyne and Maricich aren’t simply satisfied, they are redefining their own expectations of love. The album then proceeds down a path of Carrie Bradshaw-style diary entries. The dub-influenced “I Tell Myself” opens with Maricich speaking about her masochistic approach to relationships before morphing into a quirky exercise in self-esteem building, and “Invisible” arrives from a fresh romantic separation. The sorrow is short-lived, as “Like Girls” sees the couple at their most lyrically promiscuous against a backdrop of digitally contorted string arrangements and organ melodies.
The familiarity between Maricich and Dyne has resulted in the most earnest storytelling for The Blow yet, but without Bechtolt, the songs have lost much of the textured depth behind Maricich’s easygoing delivery. Dyne might not have Bechtolt’s habits of wonky samples and tempo shifting, but new duets, vocal overlays, and fractured orchestral instrumentals do better to highlight the couple’s moments of visceral uncertainty.
A sort of artistic de-evolution, the current electro-acoustic underpinnings of The Blow have been revived from the minimal soundscapes that lined 2001’s Everyday Examples of Humans Facing Straight into the Blow (Maricich’s first record as The Blow). Now back to the base, Maricich seems poised to re-imagine the path of The Blow as her relationship flourishes alongside Dyne.
Essential Tracks: “Invisible”, “Not Dead Yet”