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Howling Bells

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Album Review

It's 1991 all over again, or at least it feels that way when listening to this fun, shoegazer-worshipping self-titled debut from Australia's Howling Bells. The album's 12 tracks owe a huge debt to Slowdive and just about every 4AD band circa 1990. But for every distorted guitar and hummed harmony, there's an equal dose of Americana twang in singer Juanita Stein's delivery; and thus perhaps the group exhausted their Mojave 3 collection as well. There's no doubt that "In the Woods" is an homage to Neil Halstead, and at least half the tracks are aimed distinctly at the radio. Coldplay producer Ken Nelson adds the heavy smattering of commercial bombast, particularly in the Chris Martin-esque "The Night Is Young," which borrows structural elements from and blatantly steals the climactic guitar conclusion of "Yellow." Catchy melodies and killer hooks borrow themselves in one's brain after repeat listens, but shallow subject matter, often goofy rhyming lyrics, and a heavy-handed use of falsetto sometimes sidetrack the album as a whole. The single "Low Happening" is nearly irresistibly catchy, but cringe-worthy lyrics bring it down, and "Broken Bones" features falsetto styling that only a mother could love. But the good ultimately outweighs the bad, making for a flawed but still satisfying debut. If not for the constant shift to shoegazer dynamics and ethereal harmonies, Howling Bells almost come across like an Australian version of New Pornographers, and that's not such a bad thing at all.

Customer Reviews

Addicted to Low Happening

This album is addictive. Setting Sun, Wishing Stone and Low Happening are definately highlights but there isn't a wasted track on the album.

MEH

something wasnt rite about this, its definetly not bad, but its certainly no standout

Most Under-rated Australian Release of 2006

A fantastic album from start to finish. If you like guitars, great female vocals, good production, and an original sound, check this out. Velvet Girl, Setting Sun, and In the Woods are beautiful tracks. Its a real pity that more people are not aware of such an original band.

Biography

Formed: 2005 in Sydney, Australia

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Although formed in Sydney in 2005, the coed members of Howling Bells later relocated to London, where they molded elements of shoegaze, Americana, and pop into a self-titled debut. The eponymous record was recorded in 2006 by producer Ken Nelson, whose extensive work with Coldplay lent a dark, dirty sheen to the material. Members Juanita Stein (vocals, guitar), Joel Stein (guitars), Brendan Picchio (bass), and Glenn Moule (drums) were rewarded with critical acclaim for the resulting album, which...
Full Bio
Howling Bells, Howling Bells
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