The email from The Bleachés asking us to take a listen to their new EP was short on information – it basically said that they were relatively new and based in Manchester, and that’s it. At no point beyond some quotes did it at all indicate what sort of music they played. Unfortunately, even as a writer of the sort of thing that bands use in publicity, I have a tendency to skip quotes. What actually made me click to their Bandcamp page was their name. Yes I’m that shallow, an interesting band name is actually enough to make me want to listen to their music – although bearing in mind that I actually have albums I’ve only ever played once because I just got them because I liked the cover but didn’t like the music having got it home, I guess I probably am.
I guess the band name spoke to me of those slightly, shall we say, kooky band names that 60s’ psychedelic pop bands chose. Although the band themselves describing their sound as alternative rock didn’t really help me, in fact if the name hadn’t intrigued me quite so much it might have put me off.
Having clicked through I went from the usual ‘slump in a chair waiting to hear something I’ve probably heard way too many times before’ to ‘bloody hell, what the hell is this, wait a minute this is great’ in what amounted to seconds of the first track. And actually the quotes, now that I’ve actually gone back and read them, really don’t tell us anything about the music the band play at all.
So this EP actually has six tracks, not the usual four, and the first track is an instrumental, that’s right an instrumental. On reflection this is a great idea, it conceals one of the standout things about their sound from us, the vocals, and those are well worth waiting for.
So what, I hear you ask, do this band sound like. Well, it’s one of those ‘wait a minute that sounds a bit…’ and then ‘hold on that sounds like…’ things. There are hints of the ‘Manchester sound’ (if we have to define it somehow), lots of West Coast psychedelic pop, psych, a haze of dream pop, hints of 4AD bands like the Cocteau Twins, bits of strange freaky 60s European pop and that sort of post rave slightly fuzzy danceable rock. It is frankly on the edge of falling apart musically, it’s all wonderfully chaotic and slightly off-kilter. And this is topped off by Chloé’s vocals which are frankly hard to describe – they sort of float, they just sort of drawl in the sweetest way, in a sort of chanteuse sort of way, with huge amounts of what I can only describe as ‘being way coooool’
So track one ‘Balsa Boogie’ – the instrumental – starts sounding like the sort of thing that Spirit might have loosely jammed late at night, it’s all slightly slack strummed guitar and then there is just the most wonderful guitar that for the life of me sounds almost slightly 80s Postcard band but then again slightly post-punky, and then, what is going on here, there is organ. There is organ in the most fantabulous psychedelic pop way.
Actually that strummed start to the songs is a bit of a theme, it’s the launchpad for the songs which hit a groove, and boy do they groove, and stay on it. That makes it sound samey, it isn’t.
‘Shell Shaker’ is one hell of a groove, it has this hint of Primal Scream. Just the smallest hint. I defy anyone not to have to get up and shake your stuff to this. It has this quite wonderful off-kilter guitar that just keeps coming and going. And this organ sound which I swear shouldn’t work but it does, it does in huge creamy amounts. And this track is going to introduce you to Chloé’s vocals, get ready for that people.
Things slow down for ‘Dive’, it has this almost tribal drumming. And then, another of of those what the hell moments, there is harmonica. There is is this wobbly guitar stab. It has this strange almost country rock feel to it, but it’s way slow. And those vocals just haze out towards to you. Frankly it’s almost pure psychedelia, I’m taken to a field in the sunshine, sitting and nodding to the music gently. It builds, not hugely, the drums are a little more insistent. This takes you away somewhere really really good.
‘Anamour’ and we are back to something with more of a dance groove. It’s bizarrely poppy in a sort of strangely European way, it’s sort of almost psychedelic pop but not, it’s almost post-punk in places, it could almost be a classic danceable pop track but it isn’t. It has the weirdest drumming on what is a sort of pop-rock track I’ve heard in a long time. It sounds a mess, it isn’t.
‘Missed You By A Week In Maui’ is mainly keyboard led, it’s sort of mid-tempo with hints of a rock thing going on. I’ve listened to this track loads more than I should and I still can’t work out what Chloé’s singing about, but her voice is so so beguiling I’m not sure I really care.
OK so if you just listened to the track you’d swear ‘Mary’ was called ‘Maria’ or possibly ‘Marie’ which what it sounds like in the vocals. It has the grooviest groove. It is the densest danceable slightly fuzzed psychy thing I’ve heard in a long time and it is beautiful.
So the quotes I mentioned right at the start bandy words like garage and grungey around, I’m not sure I entirely agree. While the band might sound at though their songs are about to fall apart at any moment (if this is what is meant by ‘garage’), this is part of their charm. And I just don’t get grungey at all. These songs are sophisticated and put together with a huge degree of care. There is a beauty to them that shines through. And while there may be hints of things you recognise coming through The Bleachés take those and make them into something that is very much their own. And while there is variety in the sounds of the tracks – and I really like that in a band – there is this thread running through that is their sound.
I’m not entirely sure I can find the words to sum up how I feel about this EP – I could throw words and phrases like beauty, sophisticated, carefully put together, inventive, with a groove that have you shaking your stuff and shouldn’t work but does oh so well into some sort of badly put together sentence. Or I could tell you that these songs take you to a really really great place. But that feels sort of inadequate.
The best I can do is to say that if you like music made with care, music that takes you to a great place, music with a groove, music that takes a whole load of influences and puts them together in a way you’ve not heard before, then try this, you won’t be disappointed.
The EP is available on Spotify:
Or can be purchased from Bandcamp:
The Bleachés, pronounced ‘bleeshays’ are an alternative rock band from Manchester, formed in 2016.
The group formed after Chloé moved to the UK from France and met Adam, the pair began playing open mics together, blending a mix of covers and original songs. The duo began to write and record songs at home together, soon realising they wanted to start a band and progress from the open mic scene. Adam’s brother Jake soon joined on guitar, Josh replied to an ad for a bass player and friend Liam Farr stepped in on drums for the first few shows, who was later replaced by James in 2017.
After supporting a number of touring bands such as – Os Mutantes, Elephant Stone, Tracy Bryant & Flyying Colours, The Bleachés recorded and released the debut EP – “Easter Island” in May 2018. The six track EP was recorded across two studios in Manchester by two friends Billy Morley & Alex Burnett-Scott. The tracks blend between hazy, melodic jams to upbeat garage rock, with Chloe’s soothing vocals entwined throughout.
The band are
Chloé Sancho – vocals, guitar
Adam Hutchinson – guitar, organ
Jake Hutchinson – guitar
Josh Yeung – bass
James McGraw – percussion
‘Melting Wax’ at Night People, Manchester