Bent replace samplers and synths for songs and acoustic instruments on their third...
Jack Smith 2003
Aah, the difficult, yet all important third album: the first could go either way, but having proven themselves the second was a test to show if the first wasn't a fluke; but the third, well that's a whole different story...
Thankfully for Bent, in Ariels they've nothing to worry about. Joining Programmed To Love and The Everlasting Blink on the coffee table is another worthy companion full of surprises and enriched by beautifully lush 'n' dreamy numbers, like the Carpenters-esque "Sunday 29th" sung by longstanding cohort Kathy Heath. Less overtly electronic than what's gone before, here songs and acoustic instruments replace synths and samples, along with some quite captivating vocals.
This time out the Nottingham duo - Simon Mills and Nail Tolliday - have enlisted the services of a handful of accomplished singers to add a variety of contrasting layers to their productions. Notably Rachel Foster from the Weekend Players who adds her lush larynx to the distinctly Air-sounding first single, "Comin' Back"; she also sounds uncannily like Enya on the ethereal "Sing Me".
Kosheen's Sian Evans sounds equally at home on the seductively rich "I Can't Believe It's Over"; and X-press 2 and Cassius sessioner Steve Edwards offers a strong male lead on the slow burning toe-tapping optimistically upbeat "Silent Life".
Bent closed their Big Chill headline set this year with a sublime cover version/remix of Hall and Oates' "I Can't Go For That". Regrettably, Ariels doesn'tprovide a home for this welcome return to 1981. However you will be able to find it as the closing track ona new compilation called Flowers In The Attic which is out on Mint Source Recordings.
As a whole the chill beats and multi-layered musicianship work well together and certainly wouldn't sound out of place on the Six Feet Under soundtrack; all of which conspire to make Bent one of the most happening bands in the living room.