Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hurricane Bells: "Tides and Tales" (album review)

Tides and Tales is the second full length album from NY's Hurricane Bells, and was made possible in part by fans through a PledgeMusic campaign.

The album opener "I've Got a Second Chance" foreshadows what you can expect from the rest of the album.  It begins with an engine-revving intro which collapses into a stripped down introspective song, thus showcasing both sides of Hurricane Bells.

While Hurricane Bells don't sound exactly like any other band I've come across, there are some comparisons that can be drawn.  "Possibilities" blends the laid-back lo-fi of Yo La Tengo with the other-worldliness of Mercury Rev.  The lead single "The Ghost of Her" falls somewhere between the version of indie pop offered by The La's and that of the venerable Teenage Fanclub.

The biggest skill the band have is there ability to make so much with so little.  The song seem complex and layered, but when you delve deeper into them you realize it is really an efficient use of few elements that are deftly employed to construct a textured sound.

It's when they offer songs like these that the band are at their best.  Tracks like "Blue Blue Moon" and "Before I'm Gone" are vast, beautiful numbers.

The band manage to pull off the near-impossible with "Piano Stunt", they actually make you wish that an instrumental would go on longer.  The track is engaging and weaves a vivid narrative tapestry, despite the lack of vocals.  What is even more remarkable is that they manage to repeat the feat with the surf-tinged "The Hunger Moon".

The most impressive thing about Tides and Tales is that as good as the album is when you first put it on, it simply gets better and better each time around.

Best tracks: "The Ghost of Her", "Piano Stunt"

Track listing for Tides and Tales:
  • I'v Got a Second Chance
  • Possibilities
  • The Ghost of Her
  • Blue Blue Moon
  • Hours Like Days
  • Piano Stunt
  • Let's Go
  • House On Fire
  • Before I'm Gone
  • If This Night Is Over
  • Flowers In the Dirt
  • The Hunger Moon
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