Album Review: Bloxx - Lie Out Loud

“BTEC” is often used as a bit of a joke. “Jude Bellingham is just a BTEC Jack Grealish”, for example. As it turns out, the members of this band met during a BTEC Music Performance course, but a “BTEC” album, this is not. On the contrary, this is an excellent record.

You often hear talk of the "difficult second album"; we've even mentioned it on this website, but what often goes under the radar is how hard the first album is as well. After all, it's the first time you've ever put this many songs on one record and it'll potentially be the first time you're heard by a wider audience. There's a lot of pressure to deliver on the first go, because if you fail, that could very well be that.

One advantage you have, though, is that the first album is often a best-of of what was written in the years previously. That was the case for Iron Maiden and that's what appears to be the case here. Packed to the brim with hooks, melody and fun, Lie Out Loud is the debut album that many bands can only dream of.

The opener and title track is one of the strongest songs on the album and a great way to start. The chorus is nigh-on perfect, ready-made for Radio 1 and festivals. It’d get stuck in your head if you listened to it on its own, but it’s followed up by two more brilliant songs in ‘Coming Up Short’ and ‘Go Out With You’. The latter is particularly catchy, and another guaranteed earworm. Three songs in and this is already looking at being one of the best indie records of the year.

It’s one of those albums that’s so constant in its quality that it’s hard to pick out a highlight; it’s much easier just to list the songs that aren’t quite as good because there aren’t as many of them. In this case, it’s a good ol’ mid-album slump, with ‘Off My Mind’ and ‘Give Me The Keys’, two back-to-back songs plonked in the dead centre of the album’s list, failing to leave any real mark. The only other slight disappointment comes in ‘Swimming’, which is just a bit nothing as an album finale. The last song should always be a tad grander but ‘Swimming’ could be put anywhere on the album.

Not to worry though, because there’s plenty else to enjoy. In the latter half of the album, songs like ‘Changes’ and the absolutely terrific ‘It Won’t Work Out’ ensure that this album is one of the best that indie-pop has to offer this year. Much like Gabrielle Aplin, this band have proven that they really have a knack for the chorus. The choruses on this album are catchy, uplifting, and ripe for bouncing crowds. It makes me even more angry at 2020 for giving us COVID; people deserve to be having the time of their lives dancing to music like this at gigs.

Now it’s time for a lazy comparison, one that I’m sure Bloxx have already heard (we checked: NME already did it) but one that I couldn’t get out of my head. Throughout the album and particularly on songs such as ‘Go Out With You’ and ‘It Won’t Work Out’, there are shades of Paramore. Yes, it’s the whole ‘female singer, guitar band’ thing but there’s more to it than that. Singer Ophelia Booth often emulates Hayley Williams to near-perfection, and if you combined Paramore’s pop-rock style with Williams’ solo style which we heard (and loved) earlier this year, you wouldn’t end up far off of Bloxx. It’s an easy comparison to make, but not a bad one either.

One more thing I love about this album isn’t actually something you hear. Like so many industries, music production is dominated by men, which is why it was so refreshing to see that this album was produced by one Jennifer Decilveo. Granted, I have no idea who that is, but ‘Jennifer’ wasn’t a male name when I last checked, so it seems like a woman produced this album. That is something that is still far too rare in the industry, so it’s certainly nice to see. Or hear.

Bloxx have nailed their debut album. Hooks, earworms and choruses for days make this one of the standout indie records of the year. They have been building their name slowly since 2016 but they have made it worth the wait. They took their time and crafted something truly great. We’ll wait to see if they can build on it, but right now it certainly seems like Bloxx have a bright future ahead of them.



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