A couple weeks back, we introduced you to Active Child, the opening act for School of Seven Bells' upcoming Miami show at Grand Central. But we were so busy geeking out over his choral harmonies and harp-plucking that we glossed over the main event itself.
So let's correct that: School of Seven Bells is very much deserving of attention for its ethereal, female-fronted take on synth pop. The technical backbone of the Brooklyn threesome is provided by Benjamin Curtis, former guitarist of the feedback-filled space-rock act Secret Machines.
From his old band, he's carried over his textural obsessions, but this time pushing his love of reverb and delay through electronics as often as strings. The real flavor, though, comes from twin frontwomen Alejandra and Claudia Deheza. In a departure from the usual, the reedy brunettes write their lyrics before Curtis crafts any music, leading to relatively word-dense songs whose structure forms a real narrative arc. A School of Seven Bells song is a moody slice of life, with a wistful feeling that can recall greats like New Order, but with less aggressively dance-y tempos.
On its first album, Alpinisms, the band's stabs in this direction could sound a little half-formed and often threatened to float into the clouds. But its sophomore effort, Disconnect From Desire, showed a serious maturation, and the band's latest material has taken on a pop sensibility -- a very good thing here.
For a taste, check out the freshly released track "I L U," from the band's recent EP, Heart Is Strange. Try putting on this slab of atmospheric, slowly building, gentle disco on a morning that sucks, and we're guaranteed it will become at least 50 percent less sucky. School of Seven Bells is excellent for soothing the savage commuter beast.
For a bonus, also check out a remix of the song by Phantogram, an upstate New York guy-girl duo that specializes in a sort of psychedelic, electronic trip-hop revival blend of guitar and keyboards. Check it out yourself when the band plays its Miami debut this Saturday at the weekly Get Some party at Electric Pickle.
Download: School of Seven Bells - "I L U"
School of Seven Bells, with Active Child. 8 p.m. Saturday, October 16. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $10 in advance from wantickets.com. All ages. 305-377-2277; grandcentralmiami.com.
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