Blue October: Home album review

Justin Furstenfeld’s assured and optimistic return as Blue October.

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They’ve had Top 40 singles and a platinum-selling album in the US, but elsewhere Justin Furstenfeld’s alternative rock band have a very low profile. Yet they do have a loyal following, as shown by recent sold-out gigs at shows in London and Manchester. The Texas outfit specialise in big, anthemic music dealing with intimate themes (2011’s brilliant Any Man In America remains one of the rawest divorce/custody battle albums out there). A highly sensitive yet powerful artist, Furstenfel’s tough vocal style often echoes Peter Gabriel, Fish and Trent Reznor.

He says Home is about ‘what we do with our time on earth’ and ‘bettering ourselves’, and there is an air of melancholy optimism imbuing Coal Makes Diamonds, I Want It and the upbeat Heart Go Bang. With reverberating piano and delayed guitars, the musical palette’s catchy, contemporary and polished – just the right side of U2/Keane; more Talk Talk than Coldplay. Leave It In The Dressing Room (Shake It Up) and Houston Heights are heavier, but Furstenfeld’s abrasive conviction elevates these above stadium rock banality. Beautifully constructed and intensely performed, a thrilling mix of mainstream and art-rock moments.