Throughout this site’s decade history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the rising New York-based post-punk act Bootblacks. The JOVM mainstay act — Panther Almqvist (vocals), Alli Gorman (guitar), Barrett Hiatt (synths) and Larry Gorman (drums) — derive their name from novelist William Burroughs’ description of the dark underbelly of New York. Unsurprisingly, the band’s surroundings have deeply influenced and informed their work both sonically and thematically. “It’s an energetic city and people have all the reasons in the world not to give you the time of day,” the band’s Panther Almqvist says in press notes. “I think our music has been shaped by that in many ways.”
In 2012, the New York-based post-punk released their Jim Sclavunos-produced debut EP Narrowed. 2016 saw the release of their full-length debut Veins, which they supported with extensive touring. Interestingly, 2017’s sophomore effort Fragments found the band expanding their sound with the material becoming more synth-based, more atmospheric and much bigger than its immediate predecessors. And as a result, Fragments received quite a bit of attention, which helped the band earn slots on a number of post-punk/New Wave/goth festivals including Cold Waves, Terminus, Absolution, Wave Gotik Treffen and A Murder of Crows — and the album landed on a lot of year-end lists.
Of course, like countless acts across the world, the members of the rising New York-based post-punk act had plans — and hopes — for a big 2020, pre COVID-19 pandemic quarantines and lockdowns: they were handpicked to open for Modern English during their North American tour this year. Unfortunately, that tour has been postponed. But in the meantime, the band’s highly anticipated Jason Corbett-produced third album Thin Skies will be released through Artoffact Records on October 9, 2020. Thin Skies reportedly finds the band zooming forward where Fragments left off, with the album’s nine songs meshing dance floor pulse and brooding post-punk with anthemic hooks.
Thin Skies continues the band’s long-held thematic concerns: the loneliness of city life. “Most of the lyrics on the album are about loneliness,” says Almqvist. “Looking back on the lyric writing process there seems to be some connective feeling of isolation and distance present in all of the songs… I’m always hoping that a listener personalizes the song, that’s why the songs never have a narrative but try to embody a feeling.”
I’ve written about Thin Skies’ first three singles: the brooding yet dance floor friendly “Traveling Light,” the jittery and anxious “The Jealous Star,” and the cinematic and atmospheric album title track “Thin Skies.” “Hidden Things,” Thin Skies’ fourth and latest single is centered around shimming, reverb-drenched guitars, arpeggiated synths and a dance floor friendly pulse, reminiscent of The Rapture and Cut Copy. According to Bootblacks’ frontman Panther Almqvist, “’Hidden Things’ is about looking into darkness to find your way out of it.”