REVIEW: School of Seven Bells – GhostoryPosted: March 2, 2012
When bands lose members, it’s inherently a bad thing, but School of Seven Bells (often stylised as SVIIB) have managed to stay on top despite the departure of keyboardist Claudia Deheza. Now onto their third full-length, Ghostory carries the band’s familiar brand of ambient female-fronted dream-pop in full force, even without the third member’s presence.
Ghostory is a concept album in the loosest of senses. It tells the tale of fictional character Lafaye, who is haunted by ghosts throughout her life, but it doesn’t let itself get engulfed by the narrative. The album is built up around complex synth arrangements and dance beats, with vocalist Alejandra Deheza layering poignant, haunting vocals and abstract lyrics that are appropriate given the context of the album. Sure, there may be an abundance of albums like this recently, with efforts from Chairlift, Austra and Memoryhouse churning out similar sounds, butSVIIB just seem to have the edge.
At times up-beat, and at other times shrouded in brooding mystery, Ghostory is as enigmatic as it is enjoyable. It all flows like a ethereal river, with a retro 80’s sheen glossing over the whole experience. When the album slows down, it’s reminiscent of M83‘s 2011 LP, ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming‘, with which the band share vast similarities with. Electronic drum samples punctuate the most effervescent tracks (such as lead-single ‘Lafaye‘), while the synths slow down for the drowsier moments of the album.
With Ghostory, SVIIB have managed to shine among a deep sea of 80’s shoegaze revivalists. The tracks are more focused and ambitious than ever before, despite missing a key element. The record closes with eight-and-a-half minute epic ‘When You Sing’, which flies by, much like a dream. Before you know it, you’ll be pressing the play button on the first track again.