Wednesday, 29 February 2012

School of Seven Bells - Ghostory

‘Ghostory’ sees the return of School Of Seven Bells with their third studio album, with a new line up after Claudia Deheza left due to ‘personal reasons’, leaving her twin sister, Alejandra Deheza, to write with Benjamin Curtis. The sound, though distinctively theirs, is quite far removed from the first, essential album, ‘Alpinisms’. ‘Low Times’ is the most similar with short, breathy vocals and wandering background guitar, but it feels that the album does fall a little short, never quite reaching the euphoric highs of the first.

The definite highlight of ‘Ghostory’ is ‘Lafaye’, the first track to be revealed by the band from this album, with Deheza’s voice shown at its best, especially during the beautiful chorus of ‘Lafaye, Lafaye…’ It's close to capturing the euphoria of the first album but it feels like it has been placed a little early in the album and, as the jewel in the crown, should have been placed in the middle of the tracklisting. Another highlight is the first track, ‘The Night’, which is an 80s-esque pop song, and seems like the most obvious choice for a second single with its insistent backing and catchy lines such as ‘devour me / devour me…you have my arms/ you have my legs’.

There are other moments of beauty too, the icy ‘Reappear’ seems a slow burner but manages to capture a different mood than other songs on the record, and involves you so much in this mood that it feels much shorter than its 4 minutes. It’s not that the other tracks are dull, either, ‘Scavenger’s almost industrial drums and strange howling noises add interest. The same can be said for ‘White Wind’s robotic vocals and bouncing bass, allowing it to sound like more of an outright dance track in places.

The album as a whole, having a concept, seems slightly more cohesive, with the story of a girl (named Lafaye) overcoming her demons and ghosts, but seems to have lost the euphoric, essential nature of the first. Saying that, I have no doubt that School of seven bells will always manage to create music so beautifully far removed from ‘real life’ that it can whisk you away from all needless thought and worry. With Deheza’s effortless, husky vocals beautifully entwined with Curtis’ ethereal guitars and backing, they have done all the work for you. All you need to do is close your eyes and listen. 


Holly Read-Challen

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