Thursday, 5 February 2009

Howling Bells - Radio Wars (Independiente 2009)

‘Radio Wars’ starts with misdirecting ‘ba-ba’s leading you into a world of optimism and happiness. When the vocals kick in proper, there is an intense melange of plaintive guitar, stop-start drums and bittersweet yearning and searching. Howling Bells are a deceptive collective. This is a peculiar release as it seems to exist in the breadth and scope of emo and teenage power pop, but the music is mature and texture to raise it up the mere simplicities of a pop song. There is a masculine muscular quality to the music that is softened by its crying female vocals, a cry for belonging. Howling Bells play with stopping and starting songs, suddenly erupting into choruses and breakdowns where least expected, asking a lot of the listener, yet aiming for the stars as the music manages to remain accessible and uptempo enough for a mainstream audience all the way through. ‘Let’s Be Kids’ is Peter Pan in song, almost Cardigans-esque in its simple naivety. ‘Golden Web’ brings in a macabre clitter-clatter of drums and oo’s that leave the singer a sparse brooding beat to cathart over. ‘Radio Wars’ is strong for being able to be musically interesting enough to keep you engaged when the vocals dip and drip in places, descending into a little dreary emo-intonation. However, the strength is in the ability to keep you guessing as to where the songs will end up once they start. Worth checking into.


No comments: