Pop Songs Drenched in Sadness
The New York based band School of Seven Bells’ upcoming record, SVIIB is an album that lacks musical originality, but what it is bereft of in unconventionality, it certainly makes up for by way of lyrics. This is one of the most heartbreaking albums as it is the band’s first record to be released after the untimely death of one of its members, Benjamin Curtis. First, SVIIB is by no means pivotal in the way of electronica or dream pop, but the sadness and fervor that the lead singer Alejandra Deheza sings with will undoubtedly leave the listener stirred.
Although, this is without a doubt an impassioned album, in terms of the actual instrumental creativity, it is lacking. One of the songs that stands out is “Music Takes Me,” and while it is a good tune, it sounds so much like music one has already heard before. The dreamy vocals drenched in echoic drums have been done so many times before by bands like College and Keep Shelly in Athens. School of Seven Bells creates an almost identical sound to these bands, but unlike these bands most of the music is rather uninspiring. It is a “once you’ve heard one song, you’ve heard them all” kind of situation.
Despite the fact that SVIIB is a recycled sound, the one great thing they have going for them is their lyrics. They are a metaphysical representation of the world – a world that these musicians and people alike inhabit – and the preciousness and mortality of human beings. For instance, the song “Open Your Eyes.” When listeners can separate themselves from the repetition of oohs and ahhs, one discovers the lyrics are stunning and agonizing. The listener understands some form of pain and fear when Deheza sings out, “Keeping your head turned around in the past / Flooding the present with the role that you cast for hurt as / The villain and you who came in last.”
While this record is not the greatest of 2016, it certainly is one of the most tragic albums. Deheza imbues her lyrics with the memories of her band mate and leaves a shadow of his presence on the lyrics and her efforts and courage are not lost on the listener.