Releasing the pressure
Prior to the release of their latest single Tight Red Dress a few weeks ago, Bletchley Park’s most recent offering had been the single Run to the Moon back in January 2011.
That release, the last of five radio singles lifted off the band’s 2010 debut EP From Bletchley, With Love, would mark the start of a new chapter in the band’s story. Pausing only to play a handful of live performances in Malta and a couple in London – one at the Dublin Castle, the other at the Bull and Gate – Bletchley Park had pretty much confined itself to the rehearsal studio since then, working on its first full-length album.
Recorded in Ibiza with Paul Powell and finalised by Howard Keith in Malta, the album, interestingly titled My Body Fighting, will be officially launched this Saturday with a live performance by the band at V-Gen in Paceville.
As one might expect, the band is quite pleased that the album is finally ready for release. Actually, the correct word to use here is probably ‘relieved’, because as bassist Trevor Kissaun puts it, “we’ve had our fair share of setbacks”.
Choosing to look on the brighter side however, the band is keen to bypass the mishaps and focus on the band and the album that has required so much of their time, to say the least.
“Work on this album actually started in 2009,” says guitarist Gianluca Pulvirenti. “A lot of these songs were practically ready even before the release of our EP two years ago.”
It isn’t so easy to keep up with which song was written when. There are a lot of lines crossing, to the extent that three of the songs from this album’s initial sessions were actually released on the band’s debut EP.
What is clear enough however, is that the road towards getting this album done has been, to quote Paul McCartney, long and winding.
“What we have certainly learnt from this experience,” says vocalist Deborah Borg Brincat, “is that the best way to do something is to take care of it ourselves.”
Her words are further reflected in the obvious closeness that exists among the band’s present four-strong formation.
“We used to have a regular drummer too, but for the time being we’ve decided to work with a session musician,” Pulvirenti says. “Right now, the band is the four of us plus session drummer Martin Debattista,” adds fellow guitarist Mario Saliba.
“We’re all very dedicated to this band. In fact, if we hadn’t been such a close unit, we probably wouldn’t have made it this far given the obstacles we’ve come across in the few years we’ve been together.”
Another thing they feel helped in bringing them closer were the covers they used to play when the band started out.
“Actually, the choice of covers we played helped us to develop our sound and musical direction,” Pulvirenti says.
“They were a convenient stepping stone, but we have enough songs of our own now.”
And to prove it, there’s the 12-track My Body Fighting album just waiting to be unleashed.
While there are some pointers linking the new record to the band’s previous EP, perhaps most prominently the album’s most upbeat track Planets Move Faster, Bletchley Park have clearly moved forward and delved deeper into the post-punk influences that helped the band gel in the first place.
My feeling is that it is a quieter record, one that allows more space for musical intricacies to flourish. Pulvirenti agrees.
“I think the music on this album suits us better, and yes, it is a more intense record on many fronts.”
The band appreciates that people might be expecting something else, but it is confident they’ll find it just as appealing.
“When we were starting out, our missive was to focus on songs that have a more immediate appeal,” Kissaun explains.
“But when it came to making an album, our aspirations went deeper; we wanted to allow our experimental side to come through as well.”
Acknowledging that this may dent their radio presence, the band concedes it doesn’t quite consider itself a ‘radio’ band.
The single Tight Red Dress, for which incidentally, a music video produced by No Sweat was released last week, requires more than one listen to start sinking in.
“We totally understand that,” Pulvirenti says. “We even had some difficulty ourselves when it came to choosing the singles off the album.”
There is also another reason the song was picked as the first single and it’s because “it encapsulates the entire album’s various characteristics within its four minutes”.
Complementing the music, the lyrics are also worth examining. Not that they are easily decipherable, as the band has an interesting methodology when it comes to writing lyrics, but when read in the context of the music that is engulfing them, those words do paint a picture, albeit one that Borg Brincat suggests will most likely change to reflect each listener’s own interpretation of them.
“The lyrics are deliberately cryptic but the bottom line connecting them is the effort we all put in to retain our individuality in a society that seems to be constantly pressuring us to fit in.”
There, now you know why the album is called My Body Fighting.
Bletchley Park will perform at V-Gen on Saturday. Entrance is €7 or €10 (including album). Tickets available online at: www.ooii.com.mt.