Friday, 15 January 2010

School of Seven Bells
Ghostly International
Rating 5/5

When Benjamin Curtis left the Secret Machines to concentrate on his side project, School of Seven Bells, I took an instant dislike to it. Reasoning: how could it ever be as good as the Secret Machines were? Consequently, it was only shortly before the release of this, their debut album that I finally gave SVIIB a serious listen. Let's be honest here, it's a fucking great record; possibly the only way Ben Curtis could have gone 'up' from his amazing work on TSM's Ten Silver Drops. Whilst TSM's new self-titled album had its moments, it was the sound of a band in the doldrums. Here we have the sound of a band in full flight.

The vocals, provided b
y the Deheza twins (formerly of On!Air!Library!) are impeccable, and in 'Wired for Light', a My Bloody Valentine influenced tune with overtly eastern- sounding leads (think maybe an electric sitar imitating the call to prayer... with delay) they have managed to write a contender for my favourite song ever. EVER. Without a live drummer, they have the potential pitfall of being let down by boring electronic beats, but once again Curtis (presumably) comes to the rescue: the drummer of 90s psych band Tripping Daisy, under his guidance only once (on the over-long Sempiternal/Amaranth) does the music drag.

For the most part, despite being drifting vocal melodies over a virtual sea of guitar wash and synthesisers, the music has an unexpected drive to it, and all the best songs on the record have this in common-namely single 'My Cabal', as well as 'Chain', 'Half Asleep' and 'Connjur'. In fact, there are more potential singles on this album than not, and the quality and the consistency of the songwriting is frankly astonishing. It's very hard to come up with anything that doesn't draw instant comparison to anything else, and besides the obvious namechecking that comes with the 'shoegazing' scene (My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins etc. etc.) in all honesty SVIIB do have a sound all of their own. Not only that, but it's original too, and you can quote me on that.

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