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School of Seven Bells – “Ghostory” Review

schoolofsevenbellsA very new duo to fall on my ears are School of Seven Bells. Upon my first listen my first thoughts were harking back to Cocteau Twins and whilst that’s not far from the mark – Ghostory is a magical album.

Opening with bouncy “The Night” you are splashed into some of the most gorgeously reverbed guitar samples. The reverb and production are laid on so thickly that it’s like you are swimming in treacle through each track. The vocals of Alejandra are ethereal, smooth and shimmering. Be it here, in the more slower but punchier “Love Play” or the uptempo dance-rock anthem of “Lafaye” all the guitars, synths and vocals push together to create a full on collage that leaves no spectrum part of your ear uncatered for. There’s a real fullness to the sound and that is something I love. The fact the songs are catchy too just adds further to the appeal.

“Low Times” plays on the duo’s tendencies to veer into a dabbling of 80’s synth pop and it works beautifully for all involved. It also showcases how tight all the riffs are as all the mini melodies all fit perfectly like a jigsaw puzzle. “Reappear” is the first time the album really slows to an orbiting stillness in what is a melancholy spacious piece that shows the duo can absolutely nail the ambient side of their work too. “Show Me Love” continues the slower side but with more gritty edge as guitars openly vibrate across the speakers and grizzle beneath the surface of all the keyboards. It feels like it’s about to burst at any moment even if it doesn’t actually do so.

“Scavenger” gets the rockier side of School of Seven Bells out with a real ethereal rock belter that’s vying for favourite on the album with “White Wind” not far off its tail with a bassline that reminds me of the opening of the Knight Rider theme tune and things feeling funky but more discordant and digital. The vocoding used in the general melody is a genius touch and it reminds me of Curve. The album closes with “When You Sing” which is a magical tour-de-force of all the guitars, synths, vocals, beats, technical wizardry and ambience we’ve had before us. It’s like a euphoric high-five that the Cocteau Twins could have given us had they gone a bit more into a dance rock arena.

“Ghostory” is a phenomenal album. Each track is dripping in as much reverb as it is atmosphere and it feels heartfelt, free, loved and found. I am one huge new fan. Seven thumbs up!

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