Given that they’re a band that’s been active since 2013, the fact that it’s taken Aussie screamo upstarts Blind Girls five years of making music to materialize a full-length debut – and that this debut, Residue, comes almost two full years after their last release, a split with excellent Japanese band Sans Visage – is a pretty good indication of Residue’s quality. People who aren’t privy to the trials and tribulations of the screamo/emoviolence process may not see this; it’s a genre where prioritizing quantity over quality is far too easy and you end up with a lot of bands, even excellent ones, whose discographies are marred by some pretty subpar releases. Amidst the fields of emoviolence mediocrity lie many gems, to be sure, but it’s easy to get disillusioned with the need to traverse those territories.
Don’t get it twisted though, screamo is still a fucking great genre. I’m not saying this as a diatribe to imply screamo is forever condemned with being plagued with stinkers (really, what genre isn’t) as much as to point out that Blind Girls maintaining a level of radio silence for close to two years before dropping Residue is a rare phenomenon and a greatly appreciated one, because it’s obvious that these folks have really taken their time to sit down and hammer everything out. Seriously, it’s pretty much impossible to find anything wrong with this release: clocking in at just over 20 minutes (the perfect length for a screamo album, in my mind), Residue doesn’t show Blind Girls doing anything particularly outside the genre’s bounds, but it shows a band that completely understands the intricacies of the scene in which they take part.
In fact, Residue takes great advantage of some of the sounds in screamo that go underappreciated at times: the tracks present here utilize the explosive technicality and lithe, mathematical precision of Lord Snow, albeit with a little less of a lo-fi bent to the production that enables the interplay between both guitar players to shine. The presented counterbalance is a more thoughtful, restrained side that takes influence from post-hardcore and has clear echoes of All The Footprints-era envy and Frail Hands. There’s an adept, assured approach to the instrumentation; Blind Girls knows exactly where they want to go and exactly what route to take there. I’m trying to not make assumptions about how long was spent on these songs, but seriously, this kind of stuff isn’t the music people write in first drafting. Everything feels pored over and trimmed to the perfect extent – nothing goes on for too long, yet no idea ever feels as though it doesn’t get the time it deserves – and what Blind Girls presents their audience with is cut-and-dry excellence.
Sorry that it’s taken me this long to just cut to the chase and say it, but Residue is just a great album. Screamo hasn’t exactly been in a bad place recently, but man, this is easily up there with the genre’s best releases of the year. If you’re a fan of the genre, you really owe it to yourself to check these folks out.