Howling Bells - Howling Bells

Out with the obvious. Howling Bells is made up of members from that Sydney pop band, Waikiki, which had some commercial success a few years ago. But don't hold that against them. Think of Waikiki as the film Terminator, and Howling Bells as Terminator Two: Judgement Day, which was much more convincing, had cooler effects, and starred Edward Furlong. Man I loved that film. But I digress, rather a lot. Howling Bells is a different band, with a much darker debut album.


The self-titled LP opens with The Bell Hit, a cruising little alt-country ditty, which sets the tone for the rest of the album. Great crisp guitar tones and moody harmonies form the basis of what is a perfectly placed opener. The song is followed with the more epic Velvet Girl. Just imagine Coldplay discovered the minor chord, and wrote a song and you pretty much have Velvet Girl. Which is fitting seeing as the album was recorded and produced by Coldplay's producer, Ken Nelson.


And then you have their heralded Low Happening. Funky, rocking, catchy, it is the perfect radio-friendly rock song. I don't want to upset those orthodox Radiohead followers out there, but at times it has an OK Computer feel to it, mostly due to the spacious mix. Regardless, it is what first got British music mags excited about Howling Bells, and it's ‘the one to download' if you like (and by that I mean after legally purchasing it on iTunes, you pirates of the high internet seas).


The Night Is Young is another winner and opens with Juanita Stein's flirtatious vocal. I refuse to make lazy comparisons to her female contemporaries. No she does not sound like PJ Harvey. But she has the same ability to pen a nice vocal melody. The song chugs along a bluesy line, assisted by Rhodes organs, and more moody harmonies.


The album closes with the melancholy I'm Not Afraid. The instrumentation is beautifully spacey, adding to the loneliness the lyrics evoke. It is an impressive closing number.


Howling Bells' debut album is a solid collection of great rock songs. While at times it can seem a bit ‘samey', it is leagues above most of the cock rock being promoted as the next big thing at the moment. I'm not one to give albums ratings, but if forced, I would give it four inappropriate knowing smiles between Arnold Schwarzenneger and Edward Furlong out of five.

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