31 Aug 2022 - Thorsten
Post-Punk, Synthwave, Progressive | Dais Records | Release date: 29 Jul 2022 | Favorite song: Here & Everywhere
”I’ve been lookin, I’ve been lookin, believe me / I’ve been searchin’, I’ve been searchin’ for you” What sounds like one of the schmaltziest lines in music history ever, is actually delivered so well, that many, many people will be fallin, will be fallin in love with Death Bells. Whether again or for the first time doesn‘t matter. This record is a somewhat sunnier version of Post-Punk than what most people would expect but it delivers some of the warmest, brightest songs this side of “She‘s Lost Control“ or “Crystal“.
Death Bells are somewhat of a global band – their music is based totally on British post-punk of the 80s even they the core duo of the band grew up on the other side of the globe in Australia and then permanently moved to California in 2018, four years after they had started Death Bells. Will Canning‘s vocals are baritone sunshine and even though his Aussie accent sometimes shines through in a few words (listen closely to “Eternity Street“) it got this British-ness to it that somehow seems necessary to have a really good post-punk-pitch.
What is clearly noticeable is the band’s love for post-punk with a twist – in many songs, you will find little tidbits from other genres, some obvious ones like synth-wave, whose roots are also in the 70s and 80s. A great example for this sound is ”Lifespring” with its simple four-note middle part in an already nice melody-line, which might remind a few people of the early computer game soundtracks. However the somewhat progressive parts and tricks some of the tracks hold up their sleeve are not the most common combination with post-punk. Historically, that is also not a real obvious connection as many post-punkers were still trying to stay away from the complexity-laden structures of progressive rock. Nevertheless, when you listen to some of the melodies this connection can come up quite naturally, which speaks for the songwriting abilities of Will and his partner Remy Vesselis whose guitar lines have always the right amount of twang in order to be authentic but not redundant. The opening track, ”Passerby”, shows some connections to early, a bit simpler prog rock structures; also in the little stop-and-go-moments that follow its intro. There is that little tinge of proggy-ness in the sounds that the connection pops up.
That the tracks are not necessarily giving you the happiest moments surely comes with the genre; ”I never wanted life to pass us by” from the opening track is one of many examples which display a certain weakness for the darker moments in life. Nonetheless, one must point out that the record never bears for darker than dark moments, it’s more of a grayer than gray. According to the band, the record works like one narrative which is not autobiographical but which has to do with the vastness of Los Angeles and the gap between the glitter and glamour and the down and the dirty.
What one must admit is the fact that the band knows how to keep the listeners’ interest burning by means of arranging the tracks in a perfect order. The last and quasi-title-track, ”Here and Everywhere” has all the right elements to become a staple for any decent post-punk-playlist. The slow song is supported by a wonderfully dragging drum beat, some perfectly balanced violin parts and, again, Will’s remarkable voice and when it opens up for a great, distorted solo by Remy it’s already too late and everyone has already secured the repetition of these wonderful 34 minutes of post-punk. And let’s admit it, sometimes lyrics are less important than their delivery – we all found ourselves singing along to ”She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah!”. And soon we might find ourselves singing along to ”I’ve been lookin, I’ve been lookin, believe me / I’ve been searchin’, I’ve been searchin’ for you”. The track, the record and the band surely deserves your vocal support!