Bled Tape is the project of Chicago’s Francis Shannon, who’s been steadily releasing and evolving his style of indie rock for the past few years. His sound centers on a mix of dark, textural lo-fi rock with multiple noise elements, a style that he’s honed in the 2020 release Spun Love.
Shannon’s sound is grounded in folk and alt rock, utilizing screeching guitars and harmonic embellishments to paint large atmospheric soundscapes. His vocals mostly hovers in a soft and smooth falsetto which spearheads the ethereal energy of his songs. Synths and effects fill up the airiness with textures that sway the song’s emotion a certain way, most often veering off to darkness with the occasional levity from time to time. Spun Love is filled with these subtleties, from bouncy glockenspiel chimes to gut-wrenching riffs and otherworldly electronic pulses. Bled Tape uses these like spices to elevate each song. The overall result is a nice contrast of dreamy and bleak, perfect for the complex emotions he conveys.
The album consists of 8-tracks with a mostly sub 3 minute runtime, but each precious second is filled with unique ideas and features, some are familiar while others are hard to grasp. “Want” opens the album with a slow folky riff alternating with an electric breakdown that feels like its being strangled to its breaking point. The call and response between the two creates a roller-coaster like experience. “Adore It” follows with spine-chilling noise riffs that slowly veer off to silence, only to emerge stronger again. While these songs seem heavy on paper, Shannon’s gentle vocals provide a strong pull towards the other direction.
“Can’t Remember” and “Asleep” strips down the guitar noise and show’s Bled Tape’s chill side. The former’s soft chimes, preppy drums and erratic rhythms give off a nostalgic feel while the latter’s subdued tempo and subtle swing makes it feel like a relaxing and reassured jam in zero-gravity.
The tail end songs in Spun Love have one-off characteristics that showcase Shannon’s experimental chops. “Leaving” is an urgent 80’s new wave song highlighted by a nagging siren-like howl. “Headclouds” is a psychedelic instrumental with funky guitars and crystalline chimes. A trippy kaleidoscope of colors over a tight drum groove. The album ends with the title track, a twisting and twirling carousel that captures the winding nature of a complicated love.
Spun Love is a unique and tightly-crafted album from an artist with a clear and unique vision. Bled Tape embodies the individuality and craftwork of indie rock.