Houston is a town that has been putting out great electronica acts since at least the late ’90s, and one of the absolute best of the modern era has been the trio of Michelle Miears, Rick Carruth and Chris Gore, better known as BLSHS. Mixing a stripped-down minimalist sound with the angelic tones of Miears’s voice, they put out an unbroken (if unfortunately short) string of excellent EPs that are essential listening.
Now Miears is striking out on her own under the mononym of her last name. She’s releasing a six-song EP called Who Will Save You?, and it’s as good as anything she ever did with her bandmates.
“I learned a ton of production from Rick and Chris,” says Miears. “But I hope people hear my own influences coming through.”
There is something about the record that greatly distinguishes it from the previous BLSHS work, though that voice and those lyrics are only ever going to be Miears’s no matter where they end up. Part of it has to do with the fact that she works in Logic while Carruth and Gore work in Ableton, and that makes a significant difference in the sounds that you get. More of it is that there’s a somewhat unfiltered quality to the production. BLSHS is like a storm, but Miears alone is like a lightning strike.
The highlight is the title track. The song was inspired by Miears’s regular weekend volunteer shifts at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter. Working with dogs and cats who have lost their families had a profound effect on her.
“It’s written from an abandoned animal’s perspective,” she says. “They’re asking, ‘Why is this my fate?’ People love them for seven or eight years and then just decided they don’t want them anymore. However, I think it’s kind of a hopeful song because of the chorus “I’m fine. I’m strong.” It’s seeing these animals in a new home and looking back asking, ‘Who will save you?’”
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“He Never Loved Me” and “Cycle” are also incredibly strong standouts on the album. The former is a moving, empty thing that scrapes your bloody soul out and leaves it quivering in the sun. “Cycle,” though, is like HDMI catharsis. It calls to mind old Limahl tunes, with that same sort of hopefulness that also acknowledges endings. The backing music vaguely resembles a distorted heartbeat in an ethereal womb, with Miears coaxing a listener onto the next plane of existence.
Fans of BLSHS, don’t worry. There’s more to come. Miears has launched her solo career as Gore tends to his new baby (Carruth left the band but remains fast friends with the group). Miears hopes to have BLSHS back up soon, especially since they virtually never got to perform any of their second EP live. Until then, though, she charges ahead on her own with incredible skill.
Who Will Save You? is available on February 17. Catch the EP release live at White Oak Music Hall on March 3 with TEE VEE and Pearl Crush