School of Seven Bells - Ghostory

That gap between an act’s breathless emergence onto the grasping, fickle scene and its shift to shrugging acceptance as part of the furniture: these days, you need a feeler gauge to measure it. Is this really album number three for the Brooklyn-based dreampop trio? Yeah, but with Claudia Deheza having jumped ship for “personal reasons”, Alejandra (her twin sister) and Benjamin Curtis now operate as a tight duo. And here’s the twist – less is most definitely more. With the writing now a team effort, rather than the separate process used for debut Alpinisms and its 2010 follow-up Disconnect From Desire, a mere nine songs demonstrates sharpened focus.

Ghostory puts nary a foot wrong. The skittering beats of opener ‘The Night’; the slow-burn atmospherics of ‘Reappear’ and ‘Show Me Love’; the epic, driven ten minute close-out of ‘When You Sing’ (with its nod to the under-appreciated Lush). These and more strip away much of the band’s early mannerisms in favour of a sharp approachability. Focused, slick, smartly accessible and shiny with songcraft, Ghostory is a must if your late 80s and early 90s were about the 4AD noiseniks rather than the Factory baggy boys. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have youth on your side and the likes of Zola Jesus and Austra have led you into the night with their electro-noir, here’s more essential dark matter. Credit too, to Deheza, who, now singing solo, steps up and delivers vocals whose sweetness is now bolstered by colour and clout.

Overall

8

out of 10

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