School of Seven Bells - Alpinisms

What could be more inspiringly fantastic than the idea of a South American pickpocket academy? Not much, really, but School of Seven Bells' debut album Alpinisms does a good job of living up to the (possibly? probably?) mythical institution from which they take their name.

School of Seven Bells, hailing from Brooklyn, are Benjamin Curtis (ex-guitarist with The Secret Machines) and singing identical twin sisters, Alejandra and Claudia Deheza. Think Cocteau Twins, Julee Cruise, or indeed any act whose appeal lies in the sort of haunting female vocals where tone is more important than words. Then multiply by two - not that you're actually aware of who's doing what, as they both sound pretty, er, identical.

Accompanying the voices are shoegazery guitars and keyboards, and, more surprisingly, bleeps and beats enough to satisfy the average electronica fan. In fact, bits of it you could almost relate to, say, The Chemical Brothers or Death In Vegas. Standout Wired for Light, with its heavy beats and frazzled, splintering wall of sound, is also the record's most menacing point, while at the heart of 11 minute epic Sempiternal/Amaranth is a hypnotic pulse. This trio can switch convincingly from pretty psychedelic pop (see current single Iamundernodisguise) to an altogether more full-on trip.

School of Seven Bells' fantasy world is every bit as solid as Bat For Lashes' (who they sound like on White Elephant Coat and tour with in April), even if the songwriting isn't quite as honed. If you can overlook the fact that Alpinisms is a little one trick, it's a fine, intriguing debut.



out of 10

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