There’s a conversation to be had about the length of an album. Generally speaking, I’m of the school of if you can’t say it under an hour, don’t bother saying it. There are exceptions to that particular rule but the double album isn’t exactly a lost art. For me, only a few artists have successfully released albums worthy of the format. Prince, The Smashing Pumpkins, and of course The Beatles come to mind. With the release of The Blinding White Of Nothing At All, The Lees Of Memory just may have etched their name on the shortlist.
To pull off a double album, an artist must justify quantity with quality.
There comes a time in every artist’s career when they feel experimental. However, few have the ambition to create more music than a single album will fit. Setting out to make a double album can bring all sorts of creative pressure to the table. More often than not, the process collapses on itself. This is why most double albums would make better single albums. Then there’s the discussion about money. With streaming as the preferred format, are double albums even relevant?
Thankfully, The Lees Of Memory have a knack for thinking outside the box without sacrificing the least bit of satisfaction. Since their first album in 2014, The Lees of Memory have recorded two LPs, six 7s, as well as countless ready-available demos. Each being wildly different than the last. With their third album, the idea of a double album just seems like a logical step.
On The Blinding White Of Nothing At All, The Lees Of Memory have essentially crafted a greatest hits collection of songs you haven’t heard yet.
With their previous band Superdrag behind them, John Davis and co-founder Brandon Fisher, are no longer at the mercy of what fans may expect or demand. Where the first Lees record Sisyphus Says catered to their shoegaze roots and the follow-up Unnecessary Evil playing up the alt-rock element, Blinding White is just about everything else. Experimentation can be a deal maker for some artists, but with Davis and Fisher, it’s their specialty. Rock, country, blues, and even jazz make appearances throughout. But thanks to spot-on production by Nashville’s best-kept secret Mike Purcell, the experimentation never feels pretentious or forced.
For the most part, Blinding White trades the shoegazing layers for acoustic 12-strings, pedal steel, and sitar. Most songs are upbeat and push forward with a strong emphasis on melody. It’s power pop all grown up standing up shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Big Star and The Replacements. Especially tracks like “Find Yourself Walking” and “Hypothetical Shows”. There’s a general sense of hope and love running through each song. Even with the Fisher-lead tracks being the darkest, the album stays focused on its underlying theme of positivity.
The Blinding White Of Nothing At All not only justifies 24 song tracklisting but legitimately feels like the classic album this generation has been missing.
In many ways, The Blinding White is a love letter to every artist who inspired Davis and Fisher. “Open Hearted Lover” and “Mountaintop (I’m A Goner)” are some of the best Beatle songs Lennon / McCartney never wrote. While “Hard To Breathe Easy” and “Precious Flower” would bring a tear to Brian Wilson’s eyes. Each track is handled as if it were a single, catering to the aforementioned greatest hits theory.
The standout track for me is “Bring It Home To Me”. The only song on the album Fisher and Davis share lead vocals. It’s raw, electric, and full of bendy guitars. But most precious to me is how it’s a make-shift tribute to their previous band Superdrag. The wall of guitars on top sugary vocal harmonies remind me of why I love that band, and this band so much. I’ve been listening to Davis and Fisher since I was merely a child and hearing this track is like catching up with an old friend.
It’s the sentimentality that makes The Blinding White Of Nothing At All work so well. A record about love created with love.
For Davis, Fisher, and drummer extraordinaire Nick Slack, The Lees Of Memory is about creating art without the constant pressure of financial turnaround. The music is always unique and well-made but most importantly it’s honest. The Blinding White Of Nothing At All is a celebration of what made these guys pick up an instrument and start playing. In the same sense, it’s celebrating the same reason why I’ve stuck with the careers of Davis and Fisher for over half of my life.
Needless to say, The Blinding White Of Nothing At All was by far my favorite record of 2017 and I’m glad it ranked so high on our Best Albums of 2017 list. I just may go as far to say it might even be my favorite of the careers of everyone involved.
The Blinding White Of Nothing At All is available now on Bandcamp.