Bic Runga returned quietly with her 4th studio album “Belle” at the end of the last year which still hasn’t reached the UK shores yet but is available to get on digital download from online retailers. This time Runga is happy and it shows in a light and melodic album.
“Tiny Little Piece of my Heart” is a hark back to the 60’s with rough round the edges percussion and plinky pianos – verging on Mo-town! Paired up with lead single “Hello, Hello” which has such a joyously infectious chorus, you can feel a rush of new energy flowing over you. I enjoyed Birds, but it was a restrained and delicate for the most part. Here things are simple, straightforward and direct. Happy chords, strong vocals and little motifs hidden away to discover in background instruments. “If You Really Do” is a bass heavy track that’s had a lot of the reverb sucked out of it. Bic’s vocals here are simply delicious as the sweetest oozes through the speakers.
“The Girls Prepared for War” is very Bowie-esque with its spacey guitars and echoing vocals over a slightly psychedelic rock track. There’s some interesting chord patterns here too as guitars drone and slide from ear to ear. “Everything is Beautiful and New” follows in a similar vein with a seductive acoustic track with a mellow ambivalence to it. Almost like a laid back Trust in Me. “Good Love” is a great mixture of the previous two tracks more seductive alluring but deadly mood with the more upbeat opening trio of tracks. There’s some fun experimenting with some keyboards on this track which see’s Bic veering off to new territory too.
“Devil on Tambourine” is a fun hark back to electric guitar led 60’s psychedelic folk but it fades out before it’s really finished and deserves a bit longer on air. Equally brief is the title track “Belle” which is a harp/keyboard/vocal track in French. It’s completely different to anything else on the album but is utterly enchanting and luscious beautiful. It paves the way for more experimental “Darkness is All Around Us” which has an epic sway to it. There’s a lot of bleeding chanting la’s, phasing keyboard synths flying all over the place and a marching band track. We end up back full circle with most bluesy we’ve seen Bic with “Music and Light” with thick piano, finger clicks and hushed vocals.
“Belle” isn’t an album to break out of new traditions. It’s very much in a similar vein to Drive and Beautiful Collision but there’s a confidence, an ease and a warm familiarity to it. Warm, seductive and enchanting, Belle is a beautiful album.