Beautiful Game, Indeed
If you were a fan of the lush, velvet tone of Hope Sandoval’s (Mazzy Star) voice, you will be equally enamored of Andrea Lo’s. Where Sandoval’s voice inhabited a safe, comfortable space, afraid to venture too far, Lo’s wildly drifts up and down the range, equally at home in Sandoval-territory as it is in the upper reaches of soprano-land. She is a gifted vocalist and listening to her sing is a pleasure.
Lo is 1/5 of The Belle Game, a moody indie-pop band from Vancouver. Their newest recording, Ritual Tradition Habit, is also their first full-length. There is something admirable about a band that waits four years to put out its first record. In this day and age of immediate gratification, it’s nice to hear a record that has been baking for a long time.
It is immediately obvious that the members of The Belle Game are talented songwriters. The album opens with “Ritual,” less a song than a soundscape. Then the 1-2 punch of “River” and “Wait Up For You” grab your attention with their gorgeous melodies and hooky choruses (bonus: check out the video for “Wait Up For You,” which is a work of art in itself). The players are obviously fans of British bands such as Ride, Lush, Swervedriver, etc. If you enjoy your music with a healthy dose of reverb, delay and drama (and who doesn’t?) you will instantly feel at home with their brand of self-described “dark-pop.”
Unfortunately, all is not well in The Belle Game-land. After the heart-melting ballad, “In Secrets,” the album slowly starts to go south. Many of the remaining songs veer away from the poppier numbers that opened the record and lose the listener, with the exception being “Salt+Water,”a cool and moody track with interesting vocal effects. Fortunately, Lo’s voice makes all of the less-interesting songs listenable.
Overall, this record will really appeal to people who already appreciate this genre as it perfectly apes all of the conventions that fans already love. Watch out for Andrea Lo — a voice this great needs to be heard.