School of Seven Bells: Ghostory (Vagrant/Ghostly International) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, December 5th, 2019  

School of Seven Bells

Ghostory

Vagrant/Ghostly International

Mar 01, 2012 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Now a duo after the departure of keyboardist/vocalist Claudia Deheza, one would assume that School of Seven Bells entered their third album Ghostory at a disadvantage. As it turns out, having one less member barely makes an impact on the band's sound. There's no denying School of Seven Bells' '80s-synth pleasures, or the slick urgency of their delivery. But too often the duo continues to hit walls, where like-minded band M83 would have smashed through. As a result, remaining members Alejandra Deheza (vocal/guitar) and Benjamin Curtis (multi-instrumentalist) deliver a series of themes and structures that not only mirror other tracks on the album, but their career as a whole.

None of Ghostory's songs manage to improve upon School of Seven Bells' previous high-water mark, Disconnect from Desire's cinematic opening track "Windstorm." However, the band has fun trying. Album opener and lead single "The Night" is a blustery ride, Deheza's siren call swaddled with synths and electro-mysticism. The album earns its moniker with "Low Times"ghostly chants and haunting lyrics pointing to life beyond the Brooklyn hipster scene. The pair even manages to pull off multi-movement closing track, "When You Sing," guiding the listener through ambient discord, high-flying choruses, and complex keys. It's gauzy, sensuous listeningeven if we've heard it all before.

But where does a band go after establishing themselves as a shoegaze force? Delivering more of the same only does half the trick. Even with all their carefully constructed drama, when placed back-to-back, Ghostory's nine tracks don't equal transcendenceit's more akin to Groundhog Day, The Musical. Seemingly incapable of anything other than an all-or-nothing approach to writing, scaling it back seems to yield mixed results, token ballad "Reappear" slowing their ambitious dream-pop to a snore. Ultimately a very pretty album, it's difficult not to view Ghostory as a mere specter of School of Seven Bells' potential. (www.sviib.com)

Author rating: 6/10

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Jennifer Grace
January 9th 2019
6:37am

I like this website and I like all the posts here.