The first time I saw School of Seven Bells (Who I’m going to call by their shortened name SVIIB from now on) it was when they supported the equally ethereal Bat For Lashes. I was familiar with their songs but their debut album “Alpinisms” was mainly overlooked. Wrongly.
Earlier this year they released “Disconnect From Desire”, their second and ultimately more accomplished record. They’ve transformed themselves from slightly psychedelic and wispy alt-rock to out and out electronic sirens. And they sound all the better for it.
Opener “Windstorm” is as it’s name suggests, a force of nature that comes at you with it’s harmonised vocals from the Deheza twins and swirling acrid synths that help bring visions of sandstorms. “Heart Is Strange” is the most conventional pop song on here but the vocal performance of Claudia and Alejandra turn this into an alt dancefloor filler.
But it’s not on these moments that SVIIB really shine. They’re at true best when they’re singing regretfully with melancholia alongside their swooning melodies, as on “ILU” and “Bye Bye Bye”. The haze of the production does a good job of preventing these moments from being conventional and adds a mysterious effect that makes te record beguiling. “Joviann” is perhaps the closest song on the record to their previous work but it still bears the hallmarks of an album that has transformed the band almost entirely.
SVIIB may polarise many – they’ve often been slated for being emotionally detached, as the name of the album suggests – but personally I just don’t get tired of it’s sometimes haunting tunes and take on synth-pop that maintains a too-cool-for-school attitude.