BleachLab Lost In A Rush of Emptiness Artwork low res scaled

Bleach Lab – Lost In A Rush of Emptiness (Nettwerk)

It feels like Bleach Lab have been around for longer than they actually have. The warped reality of the beginning of the decade makes it seem we’re more than three years in, but the band have crammed a lot into that time.

Not many bands decide to release their debut LP after three EPs in little over two years (two in six months) but you get the impression this was part of the grand plan or an exercise in honing their craft. They could be forgiven for resting on the laurels of their exceptional debut A Calm Sense Of Surrounding but they continued evolving with the follow-up Nothing Feels Real half a year later that had more of a dream pop bent.

This is a record you want to listen to whilst driving late at night. Or on the last train home in the early hours after a gig or night out. It’s euphoric but calming in equal measure. There’s an inescapable thread of melancholy that rather than deflating you, speaks to your inner monologue and how you end up feeling at any point in your day, week, or month.

This is far from what lazy descriptions would call miserable or depressing. We can’t listen to happy pop all the time and who doesn’t want to feel like they aren’t alone in feeling like everything and everyone is against them? Tired, world-weary, world-beaten but undefeated.

All Night encapsulates the essence of the whole album. The studio has given them license to layer guitars and keyboards to give an epic heft to the sound. There is a gated drum sound with bass high in the mix creating an almost overwhelming atmosphere.

Indigo was the first single of five that was released prior to the LP arriving, and it is the ideal introduction to the record. It takes the soaring anthemic elements from the first EP tracks like ‘Flood’ and ‘Never Be’, especially when the middle eight breaks into strings, specifically it sounds like a violin lead where a guitar solo might be.

Counting Empties is a gorgeous lament “I’ll keep counting empties/until you love me/there’s emptiness inside of me.” The mundane perfectly illustrates unrequited love. The empty bottle is a metaphor for the feeling of what is missing without that person.

Everything At Once uses double-tracked vocals on the chorus to great effect, making Jenna’s vocals even more ethereal. Naturally, all guitars are drenched in reverb and delay, which could start to sound derivative of so many bands as their love of The Cure and Cocteau Twins begins to overtake the individual talent they have. But fortunately, with Bleach Lab there’s enough technique, enough muscle, variety in the melodies, a strong rhythm section and beautiful vocals to allow it all to stand up on its own.

And when the influence does burn stronger on some songs than others, it works like a homage, especially on ‘Never Coming Back’ where the dampened guitar picking does evoke some of Robert Smith’s more evocative moments of melancholy.

Jenna’s vocals are the perfect balance between the breathy, hushed variant that can be so thin that it’s almost not there, and the over-the-top vocal gymnastics some attempt as if to show they’re the star of every song. Nowhere is this better illustrated than on ‘Smile For Me’ where she stunningly articulates the ridiculous comments and behaviour she has to put up with from the arrogant and predatory entitlement of the men she encounters. “Keep your hands to yourself/I know it must be hard to think/we don’t owe you anything”. She delivers these lines with the defiance and incredulity the subject matter deserves but with the vulnerability and emotion to make any man consider their own actions and behaviour.

They’ve taken their time, found their feet, found their sound, and found the right way of recording the strongest collection they’ve written so far. This is an accomplished debut LP that sounds like it was created as a whole, from the stunning blurred photographs on the Bakerloo Underground line for the artwork to the cohesive and expansive eleven songs that make for a compelling and immersive listen.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.