Review: School of Seven Bells End Their Run with a High Note

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016 at 8:49 PM
Review: School of Seven Bells End Their Run with a High Note by Britton Rozzelle
‘SVIIB,’ led by Alejandra Deheza, proves to be a stunning tribute to late musician Benjamin Curtis.

I’ve always been a School Of Seven Bells fan, from their introduction in 2008, to 2012’s “Ghostory,” and I’m pleased to report that their fourth and final album, “SVIIB,” the last after the death of guitarist Benjamin Curtis, is worth every second. “SVIIB” functions as a tribute to the band’s history, and Curtis himself, and it weaves a bittersweet story along contemporary influences that extend from Beyoncé to New Order, while maintaining almost shoegaze-style qualities of instrumentals.

“Ablaze,” the opener, sets the mood with a powerful range of instruments that would clearly feel at home in an ‘80s movie soundtrack, matching the vocals perfectly, taking us, forcefully, to the much more reserved “On My Heart,” which presents shades of Ladyhawke or even La Roux.

“Open Your Eyes” is a droning, emotional testament to lost love and sadness, which reflect perfectly the circumstances of this album. “A Thousand Times More” sounds like a strong (and almost pitch-perfect) addition to the seminal shoegaze album “the third face” by Malory, to its distinct benefit, and ends with a strong swell that lingered on my mind for the rest of the night.

“Elias” eschews listeners to a reserved, hazy, summertime scene painted by downtempo beats, simple instrumentals, and a zoned-out, spacey delivery from Alejandra Deheza.

“Signals” dives back into the shoegaze roots of the band with chords and progression that could stand proudly next to the work of Air Formation or Slowdive, but mixes things up with a snappy, rapidfire set of verses.

“Music Takes Me” doesn’t take many risks, but feels at home in between “Signals” and “Confusion,” one of the more powerful and noteworthy songs on the album because of how different it feels from everything else. It’s simply a gorgeous song, highlighted by gradual changes in tone and an all-encompassing synth backing. The final track, “This is Our Time,” matches the energy of “Ablaze,” and channels it into a powerful, bittersweet conclusion to the final album from the band.

“SVIIB,” manages to present a very cohesive and even album, which functions as a fitting conclusion to the band’s run, and is worth a listen for those who are fans of more reserved, thoughtful pop.

Britton Rozzelle is The Arts Editor for The Spectator and he can be reached at ae.spectator@gmail.com.

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