School of Seven Bells - Disconnect From Desire
When Alpinisms was released in 2008, it was one of this writer's favourite albums of the year. The expert melding of beat-driven electronica, shoegaze and pop was a joy, even more so due to the presence of twin-sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza who provided some wonderful vocal performances. Formed by ex-Secret Machines member Benjamin Curtis, that album showed him fairing far better than his bandmates who carried on and so it's disappointing then that Disconnect From Desire fails to build on the initial work.
There's a definite move away from the more abstract and experimental leanings of the previous album to a more straight up, synth-rock feel especially on 'Heart Is Strange', a track which has a decidedly eighties feel to it, musically recalling The Cure of all acts. 'I L U' continues this trend but with a more positive result, the twins' vocals coming across brilliantly and creating one of the best moments across the disc. Curtis' guitar has a much more prominent place this time around too, in particular on tracks like 'Babelonia' and opener 'Windstorm' where they eschew the dense electronic soundscapes of the previous record and have a more alt-rock feel.
The problem with this album is that while every track is perfectly fine, nothing ever stands out and grabs your attention. Pleasant enough to be put on the background and nod your head along to, each track is content to plod along but never does it cause your ears to prick up and pay attention. While School of Seven Bells have by no means made a bad album in Disconnect From Desire, they sure as hell haven't made an exciting one either.