The Bloom and the Blight is the work of a band that has matured and redefined itself, and the album is imbued with a palpable sense of personal catharsis. Opening tracks “Halcyon Days” and “Song of Songs” illustrate the type of build to explosion that’s omnipresent throughout the album, and the prowling “My Love Won’t Wait” – with a menacing chorus underscored by a pounding backbeat – is an epic, booming anthem. The gentler “Broken Eyes” – all voices, guitar, harmonica, and tambourine – has already become a fan favorite with its rousing, harmony-filled final verses, while the cinematic “Ride Away” soars on Adam Stephens’ raspy howl and Tyson Vogel’s relentless drumming. The songs have a dark side and a dynamic sonic heft, yet a sense of salvation and resolve courses throughout: an urgent, emotional poignancy stemming in part from Stephens’ recovery from a serious van accident in 2010.
Produced by John Congleton (The Walkmen, Explosions In The Sky, St. Vincent), The Bloom and the Blight moves away from Two Gallants’ more folk and blues based past, representing the duo’s ferocious live show and their past steeped in punk and grunge. The album simultaneously maintains the thoughtful storytelling and eloquent lyricism for which the band has become known, and contains gorgeous, quieter moments like the finger-picked ballad “Sunday Souvenirs” and the dreamy, unearthly “Decay” (the first Vogel penned song on a Two Gallants album).
It had been three years since Two Gallants played together (Stephens released a solo record, We Live On Cliffs, and Vogel a self-titled instrumental album as Devotionals in 2010), and when they rejoined, The Bloom and the Blight materialized quickly. After writing most of the tracks and road-testing them on their predominantly sold-out Fall 2011 US and European tours, the album was completed at Berkeley’s legendary Fantasy Studios and in San Francisco’s Tiny Telephone studio.