Cookin' On 3 Burners: Blind Bet

The third album by the powerhouse Aussie funk trio is stunningly diverse, which is both good and bad.

- Blind Bet, the sixth album from Cookin’ on 3 Burners, has all the right ingredients, a dash of soul, a pinch of country, a spoonful of funk, a smidge of surf pulp and just a hint of jazz to give it some heat. Unfortunately, COTB’s latest also has too many chefs, turning a winning recipe into a bland serving of hits by committee.

The problem with Blind Bet is cohesion. All of the tracks have a distinct flavour, but as a meal, none of it truly gels. There is some amount of thematic through-line but otherwise it seems like every guest and even the band themselves, are only doing what they want. Again, this is great on a track by track basis, but overall it feels muddled and incomplete.

Of the eleven tracks on offer, five of them are instrumental pieces, each of which minutely explore a singular theme with very little breadth or progression. Even their placement feels a little like padding. Not only do they open and close the album, they also dominate much of the back half, as does Kylie Auldist, Lance Ferguson's Bamboos cohort. This has the effect of making Blind Bet into a Bamboos tribute.

The rest of the album, those of the featured guest, are singularly great yet intrinsically separationist. Though it leans a little heavily into Tom Waits territory, Tex Perkins' Flat on My Back is a gritty and rustic alt-country dirge. You Got the Better of Me is anecdotally soulful, with Jason Heerah lending the track a playful irreverence. Backed up by Daniel Merriweather's Losing Streak, a joyously depreciating digression, the two actually create an interesting couplet, one of the album's few contiguous moments. The Cat Empire's Harry Angus delivers a bit of mid-point drudgery with Last Man Standing, a maudlin piece devoid of the brassy ebullience present in much of his other work. Finally, the two Kylie Auldist tracks that punctuate the album's end, Chew You Up and Spit You Out and Mind Made Up, are fun but far from revelatory, doing little to showcase Auldist's usual ferocious range.

Part mix-tape, part Bamboos cover, Blind Bet is a great collection of tracks, but not much of an album. Taken individually, each of the tracks has a lot to offer, but as a whole it feels lost and slightly solipsistic. This one might be best served as a sample platter and not a main course.

- Nic Addenbrooke.

Album Details

Album Title: Blind Bet
Artist: Cookin' On 3 Burners
Record Label: (Freestyle)