Blanket Music The Love/Love Translation

It is hard not to feel a little sorry for Hush Records. Despite having a stellar roster of bands onboard, almost every single one has been overshadowed by one of their former bands — the Decemberists. Even the label founder Chad Crouch’s band Blanket Music have managed to slip by almost unnoticed despite four albums of increasingly impressive, gentle indie pop. But try as they might, Blanket Music will always make nice music. Whilst in the past, they’ve tried to fight that, The Love/Love Translation — their new double album — finds them giving in. As the title implies, this is an album about love, and for the most part, it focuses on happy love too, which is a welcome change. Initially, Blanket Music have a real knack for sounding like Belle & Sebastian, mainly because the vocal similarities between Crouch and Stuart Murdoch. Yet on subsequent listens, The Love — a collection of 11 of the band’s own songs — takes on a personality of its very own. It creeps up slowly on the listener, never begging and eventually getting the attention it deserves. Disc two, Love Translation, collects together 11 cover versions of love songs originally sung by other bands who have had some kind of connection to Hush, such as Norfolk and Western, Kind of Like Spitting, M. Ward and, naturally, the Decemberists. In some ways, this is the better disc of the two, simply because it feels like the band are pushing harder to distance themselves from the original versions of the songs. It might lack the warmth of The Love, but provides some much needed contrast to the warmth and comfort of the band’s own songs. (Anti/Epitaph)