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Review: School Of Seven Bells ‘Ghostory’

Feb 28, 2012

About halfway through listening to “Ghostory” I wrote down “If I was a jogger, which I’m not, and if I was a woman, which again, I’m not, I’d really enjoy this album because it sounds exactly like what I’d listen to if I was a woman jogging.” It’s a pretty ridiculous statement yet on repeat listening I can’t get the workout image out of my head—this is absolutely the kind of thing I could hear in the headphones of someone motivated to lose a lot of weight. It’s completely unshakable. I’ve now started to picture the entire band in nothing but leotards helping me exercise. It’s on the verge of distracting, so I’ll try and concentrate on all of the other aspects.

School Of Seven Bells sounds like M83 fronted by Au Revoir Simone covering a Joy Division song which is rarely a bad thing on this solid 9 song offering, yet compared to earlier albums (such as 2009′s “My Cabal”) this is a much colder sound from the trio than we’ve come to expect. The album, however, isn’t as original as previous outings, instead sounding for pretty much the entire length as a combination of ______ playing a _______ song (Bat For Lashes, Joy Division, Brian Eno, ‘Heroes’ era David Bowie, Kate Bush, My Bloody Valentine, Depeche Mode… there isn’t much of the School Of Seven Bells on here, at least as we know them).

There are songs here that click into place and are clear standouts (the anthemic “Show Me Love” and the intriguing “Scavenger”) yet on the whole “Ghostory” fails to inspire because of the lackluster first half of the album. What the first half really needed was the teeth of the second; by the time the highly superior second half is over you’re wondering where the album went and that’s not the way to leave a listener, hence the repeated listens, and hence the odd thought that maybe the first half is some sort of workout album for graphic designers that you’ve been missing.

Is it good? It’s OK. One has to wonder what will happen to School Of Seven Bells once the public demand for ’80s nostalgia finally wanes and “giant keyboards” stop becoming such a staple in bands’ sounds. School Of Seven Bells would do well to start experimenting with a new sound as clearly they know how to write a song and deliver it; they just need to expand their range.

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