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The Heavy Blinkers

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Album Review

The debut album under the Heavy Blinkers moniker, Hooray for Everything was basically a Jason MacIsaac solo effort, but by the time of their follow-up full-length the Heavy Blinkers were a legitimate quintet. The eponymous nature of the album hints that the band members themselves consider this their real beginning — or perhaps a symbolic rebirth — and that is exactly how the album sounds. The Heavy Blinkers is a splendidly ambitious and brilliantly realized headfirst dive into ultra-sunny chamber pop waters, the same pool where you can find the Beach Boys and the Left Banke wading in the shallow end while Phil Spector sulks moodily by the side, eyeing birthday-girl Lesley Gore. The band mashes together all sorts or delectable styles into a modern day White Album of sorts, but one that uses as its source of sonic inspiration the early to mid '60s, when innocence ran neck-and-neck with musical innovation for precedence. The Heavy Blinkers are equally capable of writing mid-'60s Beach Boys melodies and pepping up melancholic Burt Bacharach sophistication as they are writing a children's song, Christmas carol, or putting a new spin on an old show tune. MacIsaac is still the creative spark in the band, but it is a duty he shares on the album with Andrew Watt, and the two show exceptional pop songwriting skills. They are equally capable of school spirit chants and girl group melodrama (featuring Ruth Minnikin's sexy shy-girl singing), the sweet melancholy of "He's Not a Bum" or the gorgeous falsetto-fueled "Dressing Down," to songs with more complex jazz chord progressions. About half of these songs reinvent the rich melodic affluence of Brian Wilson with insatiable originality, while much of the album mirrors the dumb-angel beauty of Beach Boys themes, from sun and unrequited love to the more conceptual Smile-like topics of the barnyard ("From the barnyard") and fire ("Ten little firefighters"), all the while injecting a contemporary sensibility and buffering the brightness of sentiment with the occasional undercurrent of more pragmatic concerns. The album goes beyond simple accomplishment, however, and into the realm of masterwork thanks to the production and pure genius arrangements (on brilliant songs such as "Crowned Miss Fire Prevention," "Summer Won't Ask You Twice," and "Marmalade") that handle layer upon layer of flawless instrumentation. Everything from piano and guitar to banjo, theremin, timpani crashes, and in-the-pocket Spectoresque flairs make appearances at all the perfect moments. From beginning to end, The Heavy Blinkers is guileless delight. But more than that, it is a tour-de-force of unequalled pop excellence.


Formed: 1997 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Lush orchestral pop sensation the Heavy Blinkers began as a 1998 solo project titled Hooray for Everything by Halifax, Nova Scotia-based songwriter Jason MacIsaac. When it came time to perform the record in a live capacity, he required a full band to help him. He enlisted friends Andrew Watt, Trevor Forbes, and Ruth Minnikin, each of whom had contributed to the first Heavy Blinkers album as, respectively, keyboardist, bassist, and vocalist. MacIsaac borrowed another friend, Greg Fry, from local band...
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The Heavy Blinkers, The Heavy Blinkers
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