Blue Skies for Black Hearts – This Black Heart is Gonna Break (2002)
By Todd Arkely
Here’s the problem. This Black Heart is Gonna Break works and doesn’t work. I became engaged with it, I loved it, I wanted to be its new friend from first to last track. Pat Kearns, credited with all the lyrics and music, knows his effects, his melodies, his pop, his emotions and his drugs. There are moments, however, when his voice begins and you’re reminded of imperfection. He doesn’t hit the notes like you want him to – like you really need him to. I’m not looking for “technical mastery.” Truly, I don’t like things to be in tune.Something about his voice, though, will take me out and away from the gorgeous music and it jars. It hurts.
Track #3, “Blue Skies For Blue Eyes,” is a perfect example – a nice lazy feel with perfect tones of the Boo Radley’s static-psychedelia sound. Every now and then, when a note is missed or butchered, you’re torn away and become caught up in the paradox that is local, independent music. Blue Skies for Black Hearts is a Northwest band seeped in the melancholy and ache of living under wet, gray skies. Real people, real music – so god bless the blemishes. But I want so much for my bands to be spiritually glorious; to reach for the ineffable and bring it into their hearts. You want real, OK? Fuck, you need the real and ugly notes in your music if you have any spirit at all. Sometimes, however, the roughness distracts and makes you upset. So, Mr. Kearns, learn to hit your notes a little better. I don’t want you to be polished. I just want to love you more.
With this insane theoretical framework running through my brain, I kept expecting to become fed up with the damn album, but I couldn’t turn it off.I had to know what was going to happen next. Does that make it worth something? Oh, it does. It does. If you have an affinity for 90s experimental British pop (not “Britpop”) listen to this band. Listen for a lovely, lovely acoustic guitar in “Your Old Home” just nice, just right, just keeps you on the right path for at least a morning. Enough hooks, enough attitude, enough reflection of this dark corner of the world. Look, it rains heavily here, it’s gray and it’s cold. Granddaddy knows us, but they’re from Modesto. Built to Spill loves us, but Doug Martsch’s front porch is in Idaho. Blue Skies for Black Hearts is “us.” God bless them. This album isnt perfect, though it’s perfect local music – problems and all.
Maybe it’s just my wish to be transcended by something, but I want you, Blue Skies for Black Hearts, to grow larger and grander. And I want you to embrace your hearts, the rain, the sun, joy and pain with fearlessness. And stay here. Stay local. – (7.5/10)