Local Music: Blumlien’s “Carbonate”
By Maeve Devine, Features Contributor
Blumlien, formerly known as the Fake Canadians, is a grunge rock band from Buffalo that came out with their debut album, “Carbonate,” this year. In short, it sounds like a more ambient and depressed cousin of Nirvana, while at the same time creating something uniquely masterful, each song building off of the other to seamlessly create a feeling akin to floating when you’ve listened to the whole thing from front to back.
The opening track, “Orange,” encapsulates this feeling well, and a coolly confident resignation along with it, beginning the entire album with the words, “It might be too much for you to understand, but I won't waste my time on that. As I see the sky open up, I guess my time has come… This won’t get me anywhere, floating in the air.” The singer alternates between a soft, airy voice into a more gravelly, punk tone as the lines progress, his smooth voice climbing the staff each time he repeats the words “floating in the air.” He doesn’t care anymore, whether he’s getting anywhere or not, but this resignation doesn’t sound like a defeat. The next line is “The lights have blinded you: oh, well.” Oh, well. Oh well seems to be a recurring theme, in both the negative and positive sense.
My personal favorite song, and the one in which I think the band holds the most authority over their sound, is “A Blank Sky to a Soft Pond,” a haunting ballad compared to the track “Flamingo” before it, which ends in a two-minute climactic outro with a shockingly impressive guitar solo. Yet, the slower the song, it seems, the more Blumlien creates a sound that is uniquely theirs, and this is undeniably true for “A Blank Sky to a Soft Pond.” It makes you feel as if you were Alice falling down the rabbit hole, but had only realized it once you had already hit the bottom, hearing the haunting, “I’m at the bottom of a pit. I wish you could hear me… and I can’t stop from going deeper and deeper in. And I just keep waking up again and again and again and again…” The repetition of the “again and again” along with the acoustic guitar used in the song combines to create a hopeless feeling, but a song that you can’t help but play—again and again and again. It’s surprisingly catchy.
Oddly enough, by the end of the album, you’ll feel like you’re floating again, having risen up from the ground when listening to the fittingly titled outro track “Angel.” Above all else, it’s anthemic; it was created to be an outro, a finale that ends with fast drum rolls and a slow guitar line playing in the upper register. It is just what you would expect and want from the final song at a concert — a prolonged ending where you feel the universal urge to lift your arm up into the air and wave it back and forth on the beat, a huge shift from the melancholic rest of the album. It’s triumphant and undoubtedly needs to be seen live this summer when they begin performing around the city.
“Carbonate” lives up to its name and succeeds in letting all sorts of emotions fizzle up while listening to it, and’ll make you feel, at times, that you’re floating in the air — or, as said in their song, “Ninety-Nine,” “falling into the sky.”
You can support Buffalo’s Blumlien on all streaming platforms (currently listed as The Fake Canadians) and follow them on Instagram @Blumlien.