School of Seven Bells

Disconnect from Desire

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On their second album, School of Seven Bells cast themselves as an update of a specific kind of misfit band. Alpinisms reconstituted late-’80/early-‘90s shoegaze. Disconnect from Desire, however, updates the sound of a kind of band that would have opened for Peter Gabriel and Eurythmics, or headlined over Revolver, rather than tour with the likes of Lush, Ride, and Pale Saints. Here, a focused songcraft and central placement of the Deheza twins’ alluring vocals -- which tend to be lower and more earthly than they were on the debut -- disallow School of Seven Bells from being squarely shoegaze. At the same time, the band is too left of center, too odd, to be considered anywhere near the mainstream. Their cleaner, less wispy, more muscular sound, combined with more traditional songwriting, is not that radical a change. It’s closer to a slight shift that registers after a couple spins, once it becomes apparent that deeply emotive and relatively sparse songs like “I L U,” “Joviann,” and “The Wait” would have made excellent tracks buried throughout Sire’s Just Say series. They have shoegaze lyric-generator staples like wind, waves, ocean, storms, and even talk of “slipping away.” And yet, the words are not merely functional, written solely for the sake of complementing the sound as an additional instrument. They’re either poetically vague or vaguely poetic -- stuff like “Let me will the dial to turn and gild the air with silver pearls of rain” and “When’s the wait a cradle in which you’re lulled from time to time, soundly spun into an insensate lie.” The thicker, more driving songs resemble a polished, warm Curve, whipping up squalls of noise over robust played-and-programmed rhythms that soar more often than batter. No matter the amount of layering, not a single element is obscured. This vivid directness suits them very well.

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