School Of Seven Bells - Ghostory - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

School Of Seven Bells - Ghostory

by Steve Rhodes Rating:6 Release Date:2012-02-28

Since the release of their sophomore LP, Disconnect From Desire, and its unashamed push for mass ingestion by the means of 1980s revivalism, School of Seven Bells have been usurped in their 'indie' leadership role of remembering the decade that style and taste forgot by the ultra-bombastic M83. In this time they have also downsized by shedding member Claudia Deheza, which seems to have affected the band's dynamic as evidenced on Ghostory.

Taking a stripped-down approach is the natural choice for such a setback and opener 'The Night' seems to give this indication. An atmospheric and etheriel song, with effortless, lightly-treated guitars backing Alejandra Deheza's vocal. It trundles along at a decent pace and is a pleasant opener but it is inoffensive and of little substance, a meandering song which fails to go anywhere and possesses none of the hooks of 'Windstorm', from previous LP Disconnect From Desire.

The pattern repeats with 'Lafaye', with the formula of nice, woozy but nondescript vocals, chiming and distorted guitars, with the occasional grind, and a slight, electronic pulse, but again suffers from being unremarkable and stagnant, rather than forward-thinking. 'Loveplay' slows the pace but does little to distinguish. 'Low Times' is quite driving, possessing a Depeche Mode, 'World in My Eyes'-era production, but is thin and lacks a melody, and 'White Wind' employs rolling drums and electronic looping but is instantly forgettable.

Thankfully, this pattern is not present throughout the album. 'Scavenger', like a homage to 'Danger Zone' from the Top Gun soundtrack meets Kraftwerk, is still lightweight but possesses far more of an edge than much of the album. The stripped-to-the-bones 'Reappear' is a slower, laid-back song which seems to pay equal attention to trance-botherers Chicane and Victorialand-era Cocteau Twins - a haunting and atmospheric number which appears in debt to Fever Ray. 'Show Me Love' has abrasive, delayed guitars in the style of German shoegazers Monoland and subtle electronics, supporting Alejandra's dreamy vocal. Such songs seem to represent the ideal blend of SVIIB's previous two albums with contemporary noises.

The highlight of the album, though maybe for not all the right reasons, is 'When You Sing', an epic, slow- building track, full of swooning and swirling majesty. The main problem is its close proximity to My Bloody Valentine's 'Soon', especially in the guitars, loops and drumming, which could lead to Elastica-like insinuations of ripping off your idols. Nevertheless, it is a glorious, optimistic song and perhaps a direction the band should have focussed on a little more with this LP.

The loss of a band member seems to have had a major affect on School of Seven Bells and may explain the rather disappointing inconsistency and lack of direction of Ghostory, But there are still pockets of joy to be had, particularly with repeated listens. Perhaps, however, there is more Scooby Doo than The Woman in Black in Ghostory's mysticism than the title seems to suggest.

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