23 years later
The Grammy-nominated rock band, Belly, broke up following the release of their second full-length album, King, in 1995. In 2016, the band announced a reunion tour where they teased two new songs. And now, 23 years since their last, Dove is the band’s third full-length album. A lot has happened since 1995, both in terms of the popular music and in the lives of the individual musicians that make up Belly. Understandably, their music evolved with these changes. While Star and King, Belly’s first two albums, were oozing with ethereal softness, Dove packs more of a punch. However, this does not necessarily mean that the album is full of heavy rock songs. Many of the tracks have a pop or folk influence and are still soft, but not as delicate as some of Belly’s previous works.
The first track, “Mine,” features heavy drums in the verses and heavy guitar through the chorus, but the song is still ethereal. Although she doesn’t have a forceful voice like some other female rock singers of the ‘90s, frontwoman Tanya Donelly is a powerhouse in her own way. Her voice is raspy but effortlessly smooth and sweet, leaving the song balanced. “Human Child” stars triumphant drumming in its upbeat tune. Donelly gently muses of fleeting youth as she sings “Oh, human child / your face to the wind / your back to the sun… You’re digging up bones and miss all the fun / I’m not here to save you / I’m just trying to get you outside / Get yourself out of your way.”
“Suffer the Fools” has a soft folk tune, and once again, this track showcases time as a thematic element. Donelly recounts a feeling of complacency in an aging relationship. Acoustic guitar and violin gently dance throughout the song as Donelly muses, “I’ll still come by / I’ll bring that terrible wine you love … Pick up the flowers that you threw / ‘Cause I’d rather suffer you than suffer the fools.”
“Artifact” stands out amongst the crowd because of its clear country sound which is apparent in just the first few seconds. “Army of Clay” showcases a different side to Donelly’s voice, full of edge and attitude. The track is one of the heavier rock songs and shows off a dark, mysterious sound and teasing lyrics like: “Want to take flight, but you’re scared of heights / Want to be wise, but you’d rather be right.” A couple tracks later, “Quicksand” slows things down and is almost the calmest track on the album, only second to “Heartstrings,” which stars not much more than Donelly’s vocals and slow acoustic guitar.
The four members spent the last 23 years working on their individual works and have finally come together on this album. This time apart allowed the members to perfect their craft and meld their sounds and experiences together on Dove.