School of Seven Bells - Ghostory
Where has this new uprising of love for ambient shoegazey acts come from? Sure shoegaze bands have always been in the background, or at least bands clearly influenced by shoegaze and ambient music, but only now are we seeing the likes of School of Seven Bells with the release of their third full length album, Ghostory grasp a handful of mainstream popularity.
School of Seven Bells were formed by Benjamin Curtis of Secret Machines fame, so that's one tick next to them, alongside Alejandra and Claudia Deheza although Ghostory is the first release that sees Claudia take a back seat, turning the act into an official two piece. Ghostory as an album encapsulates the new NME popular side of ambient music. I'm a huge M83 fan, but it's their latest album that strongly describes this new School of Seven Bells release. The same sickly sweet swirls of eighties synths, that light breathy female vocal, songs that seem to build and build forever until they reach a plateau of well...beautiful nothingness - but then, what do we really expect from acts that clearly spent their youth listening to My Bloody Valentine? Yeah, I admit, I like it, it's great, but there's definitely a sense of predictability to it all.
Occasionally though, School of Seven Bells do something different (like the brass section on M83's Midnight City, these moments don't happen often so when they do it's like wow fuck, that feels brave!). Low Times has a really cool bass line and a simple yet driven drum beat that really gets the track grooving in a way that only a Secret Machines member could around a wonderfully simple yet effective vocal delivery in the chorus. While stand out track, Scavenger, has the feel of an old sci-fi film before it busts out into a strange ambient pop territory with high end synth work doing all the melody making until a delicious soundscape of a chorus. But the rest of the time, it can feel like a cloudy dream of aimless keyboard sounds layered down on top of each other until you can't even remember what song you are on.
Ghostory is a good album, but not a great one. When the Secret Machine grooves rear their heads it becomes an interesting listen, but for the rest of the time it's just a couple of musicians with too many fucking keyboards.
3 / 5