Daydream Nation's debut was enjoyable if by-the-numbers neo-psych/shoegaze, which raised an understandable question -- if this was all the group could do, was any more necessary? The follow-up, Bella Vendetta, delivers a definite maybe of an answer, with a band lineup change and more straightforward rock-out charge providing something different but not necessarily immediately more distinct. Only Pat Vaz from the original trio remains, still handling the basic frontman role on vocals and guitars, while Hunter Crowley takes over on drums as the only other permanent member. He brings a full-bodied, satisfying boost in his role -- the loud, steady stomp on songs like "Neon" and "Runaway" keeps everything moving. Vaz's guitar work adds the occasional mesmerizing filigree of sound -- the various breaks on "The Everlasting," the blend of acoustic and electric on the title track -- while John Hennessey's contributions on keyboards contribute some reasonable lushness here and there as well, such as the end of "A Passing Notion." If nothing else Vaz and company show without question that they love their various antecedents almost to a fault -- the Church on the one hand and the rockier end of the Creation roster circa 1991 on the other. Once or twice it really all comes together, as with the combination loud stormer and wistful beauty of "A New Dawn," which probably sounds incredible live. Still, this is ultimately pleasant and enjoyable rather than the hot-wiring of various strands that made their own sources of inspiration so deservedly recognized.
Bella Vendetta Review
by Ned Raggett