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School of Seven Bells Alpinisms Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

They've created the soundtrack to the Noughties dreamer generation.

Sophie Bruce 2009

Tired of pop rock? Electro just not doing it for you? Then why not resurrect that old genre 'Shoegaze'? It neatly describes ethereal ditties best executed by achingly-cool NYC threesome School Of Seven Bells. The trio left two other bands behind to form SVIIB, but it was SO worth it – in Alpinisms they've created the soundtrack to the Noughties dreamer generation.

Maybe it's the fact that they've already cut their musical teeth - twins Alejandra and Claudia with NYC experimentalists On! Air! Library!, while Benjamin left not just a rock band but his brother behind when he quit Secret Machines. Maybe it's their unconventional methods… with melody second to lyrics, and songs created inside the home studio in which all three live. Whatever it is, it's working.

Already causing a stir in the States, the Alpinisms special edition about to be released in the UK includes two extra tracks - swelling an already sterling cast of eleven. Bizarrely, the opening bars of Iamundernodisguise bring to mind Clannad – before the hypnotic, tripping, pulsating beat and synth chorus kick in… and kick your legs out from under you.

You can't help but wonder if this is what the Mamas & Papas would be churning out now. SVIIB's sound is a cacophony of noise, but it's good, solid, soothing noise. Skipping beats close to hip hop punch a Morse code of bassline through dreamy, soaring vocally harmonies and pillowy, layered synths.

It's far from monotonous, more eclectic – Sempiternal Amaranth could belong to Hot Chip and the brilliant Prince Of Peace to M.I.A., while White Elephant Coat transports you to another level entirely with its White Stripes-esque bass guitar riffs and twitchy cymbals. But they also excel at their own sound – see Wired For Light, Chain and Connjur, which could just be the perfect song.

This is without doubt an album for a post-9/11 world. Yes, it may be dreamy and abstract but the overriding feeling you're left with is one of complete and utter euphoria. Who wouldn't want to feel that in these troubled times?

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