Album: Ghost Story
Artist: School of the Seven Bells
Label: Vagrant Records
Rating : 7.0
The third album from School of the Seven Bells marks a lot of changes for the the group, not only bringing a more refined sound but also a more refined lineup. Originally they were a trio formed by Benjamin Curtis of Secret Machines and twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza of On!Air! Library!, but Claudia has departed the group since their 2010 album Disconnect from Desire. The core of SVIIB’s still remains in Ghost Story, it’s a heavily shoegaze influenced pop that sacrifices song structure in favour of the lyrics. Deheza and Curtis are actually on record saying that the music is there to supplement the lyrics, and it definitely shows.
The song writing is beautifully melancholy and sincere and not nearly as abstract as some think it to be.
The departure of half the singers from the band means that this album lacks the interesting harmonies
that SVIIB’s first album Alpinisms had, but the side effect of that is that this album is a quieter and
more personal listening experience. The themes of memories, regrets and ghosts flow wonderfully from
one track to the next, “Lafaye” and “When You Sing” in particular stand for their great imagery and
The downside to the lineup change though is that you spend more time listening to the music that is
backing up Deheza’s voice, and quite frankly you’ve heard it before. With the exception of the slightly
more dancy “Low Times”, the music feels like a lot of the same synth, distortion, loops and chords that
have become the standard for much of pop music. SVIIB tried to give it a darker, more ambient tonal
quality, but they went too far and it all became one forgettable shoegaze loop in the background.
Ghost Story unfortunately feels like a fizzled experiment, it produced some really beautifully written
songs, but the album is lacking that quirky unique sound that really appealed to me in their earlier