Blackfield started as a project led by Steven Wilson and Israeli musician Aviv Geffen. Personally, I totally loved their eponymous debut album, released in 2004 and the successor Blackfield II from 2007 very much. For the third release Welcome To My DNA (2011, see review) Steven Wilson's influences were kept to a certain minimum, due to the release of his first real solo album. This album did not score as high as the previous two releases, at least on my list. Now in 2013 Steven Wilson's input decreased to an absolute minimum by only mixing the CD and adding some vocal and guitar parts. Besides that, even the album length has been kept to a minimum. Sorry to say, but you hardly can see an album, not even reaching thirty-two minutes as a full CD.
It is to say Blackfield has grown to a kind of Aviv Geffen solo album, with the help of some friends. Besides the aforementioned Steven Wilson, Aviv Geffen is getting vocal assistance on three songs; X-Ray has Anathema's Vincent Cavanagh as guest vocalist, Firefly has Suede's Brett Anderson and Mercury Rev's Jonathan Donahue lends his voice to The Only Fool Is Me. For people who are familiar with Aviv Geffen's 2009 eponymous solo album, they have a hunch of the album's direction. IV is filled with melancholic pop songs, woven around Geffen's vocals. Steven Wilson fans will miss his particular vocals during this album as Steven Wilson is in my opinion the better vocalist of the two. But nevertheless the album has a certain comfortable feeling about itself. The compositions sound good; songs like Pills and Jupiter stand out by their brilliancy, these being the ones who have Steven Wilson as a prominent vocalist. The progressive influences are kept to a minimum, sometimes slight Porcupine Tree elements do pass by and the compositions are radio friendly since musically as well as in length, none of the songs passes the four minute line. X-Ray, Kissed By The Devil and Lost Souls easily could be played on the local radio stations. I guess that is where we should categorize this album; radio friendly music, accessible for everyone and I think that also was the aim of Aviv Geffen. Being a kind of celebrity in his own country the next step could be this album.
Blackfield has gently shifted from light progressive rock with elements of pop, to pop with a melancholic edge. Fans of the first two albums and people who just bought those for the participation of Steven Wilson will have to give this CD an extra spin before purchasing IV. The ones who loved Aviv Geffen's solo album don't have to think and can buy without listening. For me, if I have to listen to pop, than it better be a great pop album and that is what it is: an easy to digest, pleasant album that might lift Aviv Geffen to the next level of his career. I will listen to the album, but not as often as I listened and still listen to the first two Blackfield albums. I guess I miss Steven Wilson's influence too much.
***+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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