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Brisbane quartet Blank Realm can be a little hard to pin down and that has always been a part of their appeal. Aside from a dizzying output consisting of ten full-length releases in eight years (with just over half of them being CD-R's and cassettes), they have never stayed in one place for very long. With each release, they have experimented with numerous styles, evolving along the way from the experimental drone of 2010's Heatless Ark to the noisier workouts of 2012's Go Easy, and finally arriving at the surprisingly accessible and messy guitar pop of last year's Grassed Inn.

On their new album Illegals In Heaven, they continue to refine their sound without smoothing over any of its edges too much, allowing the weirdness that has always made it both interesting and occasionally confounding to remain. So even if songs like 'River Of Longing' and 'Palace Of Love' initially play out as arguably the most straight-forward songs they've written so far, they are still offbeat enough that they would be more suited for a label like Flying Nun rather than Rough Trade. Still, those songs alone would make a pretty compelling argument for Blank Realm being able to easily cut a proper pop record if they so chose to. Instead, they continue to colour outside of the lines and allow their music to remain diverse while glossing it over enough to bait a wider audience.

They balance their wilder tendencies with their growing pop sensibilities on 'No Views' and 'Costume Drama', tempering scraping and buzzing guitars with bright and chintzy sounding synths, giving both a wigged out post-punk/new-wave quality. One of the many high points of Illegals is the interplay between Daniel and Sarah Spencer (two of three siblings that make up the band along with spiritual brother Luke Walsh) as Sarah's silky voice has always made the perfect foil to Daniel's unconventional high-pitched whine with both complimenting one another at the same time. Whereas Daniel had a prominent role on Grassed Inn, here he shares vocal duties with Sarah on the bulk of the songs to thrilling results. On previous Blank Realm albums, she has never had the opportunity to properly showcase her abilities, but she thankfully takes the lead on the heartfelt ballad 'Gold', where she sings in a stunning and confident but still vulnerable voice reminiscent of Chrissie Hynde. On the hushed and slyly humorous 'Dream Date', Daniel in turn delivers what could be his most direct and honest vocals yet over brightly picked acoustics and sparse thumping percussion.

Despite this being the first time the band have entered a proper recording studio, the music remains as gloriously messy as ever, even with an added layer of polish. Their evolution on Illegals in Heaven may be subtle at first, but as with Grassed Inn, Blank Realm have offered up another album that refuses to reveal itself right away, and instead, it gradually lures you in and rewards you with previously overlooked gems with each listen.

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