Friday, February 24, 2012

School Of Seven Bells: "Ghostory" (album review)

Now pared down to a duo, NYC's School Of Seven Bells are on the verge of dropping their third release.  The much-buzzed about band release Ghostory on February 28th.

School Of Seven Bells have made a name for themselves with their arty, atmospheric moods which often feature an added oomph that most 'ethereal' acts lack.  This time around is no different.

The album kicks off with the propulsive "The Night", an energetic track that sets the tone for much of what's to come.  "White Wind" is relentlessly tumbling, reminding one of "Sidewalking" with a slight techno flavour.

There's a pop element to some of the songs as well.  Nowhere is that more apparent then on the melodic and hook-infused "Scavenger".  "Low Times" provides the first full-fledged toe-tapping moment of the album.  It sets into a light yet infectious groove that will get you moving in your office chair.  That pop taste is juxtaposed with the ominous "Reappear".

Everything clicks with "Love Party".  It's an ethereal soundscape at its foundation, but there is a constant flow of reverb that cascades over you, almost building a cocoon of noise around the listener.

Usually I feel disappointed when presented with an album that only runs 9 tracks in length.  However, by the end of Ghostory one can sense that School Of Seven Bells are running out of steam, or at least ideas.  The Austra-like "Show Me Love", for example, never really ignites.  The somewhat truncated length means they manage to avoid bloating the record with filler that may in the end taint the entire work.

Ghostory is not a perfect album.  But School Of Seven Bells make some smart choices that maximize the impact of what they've written.  More bands would be wise to make those sensible choices and put out only what they feel is their best material.

School Of Seven Bells play The Hoxton in Toronto on May 2nd.

Best tracks: "Love Play", "White Wind"

Track listing for Ghostory:
  • The Night
  • Love Play
  • Lafaye
  • Low Times
  • Reappear
  • Show Me Love
  • Scavenger
  • White Wind
  • When You Sing

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