published: 2 /
Full Time Hobby
Inconsistent, but sometimes sublime dream pop on third album from New York-based pop act, School of Seven Bells
I was – and am – a big fan of School of Seven Bells’ last album, 'Disconnect from Desire'. However, I felt that with that album, there was quite a marked difference in the quality of the songs. Tracks like ‘Windstorm’, ‘I L U’ and ‘Bye Bye Bye’ were big, beautiful songs. The record was, however, let down by a two or three tracks which weren’t necessarily bad, but didn’t really have much about them which begged for your attention. They were a bit samey, and blended into the background.
When it came to listening to 'Ghostory', my hope was that they would filter out the weaker material and be left with an album of big, bold hits. They went into this album one member down (keyboardist/vocalist Claudia Deheza left in October 2010) but I remained optimistic.
Unfortunately my hopes for the album were not met. That’s not to say it’s a bad record – it absolutely isn’t; but it has the same things going for and against it as 'Disconnect from Desire' had before it, and as such does not see the band really moving forward.
Again, there are some really great songs to be found here; album opener ‘The Night’ is immediately gripping, with a Prince-like, 80’s pop sound which is really appealing. It might actually be the best song on the album.
Single ‘Lafaye’ has the pulsing beat of a dance track, but its chorus and melody is more along the lines of 'The Braille Night' era Ida – who I would have to assume are a big influence of School of Seven Bells, along with rhe Cocteau Twins.
‘Show Me Love’ might be more of a standout on the album if it didn’t suffer from following the mid-record slump of ‘Low Times’ and ‘Reappear’. The latter is pretty forgettable and, at six and a half minutes, ‘Low Times’ over-long and outstays its welcome.
Happily the quality is picked up again with ‘Scavenger’. The chorus on this track is one of the most engaging on 'Ghostory', and there’s an energy in the song which was quite simply missing from those preceding it. It’s followed by ‘White Wind’, which while not the most memorable song on the album, tumbles along with a good beat and some really nice vocal harmonies. Again, I might have had more patience for it had it been placed elsewhere in the tracklisting.
The album closes with the eight minute ‘When You Sing’, which starts slowly with a building electronic growl, before kicking in with Benjamin Curtis’ best guitar part on the record; it finally sounds like he’s rocking out a little on this track. The song is the longest on the album, but fares better than ‘Low Times’ because it has a charm and energy that song is just lacking. It’s a strong closer on an album which could have been great, were it not for a couple of slack songs dragging it down in the middle. Here’s hoping the next record will have all the kinks ironed out.
Show Me Love
When You Sing