School Of Seven Bells Summon The Supernatural With Sparse Shoegaze In “Ghostory”

Saturated with John Hughes-esque cinematic moments of  ’80s-style percussive high kicks and finger snaps, spooky montages of sound seeping through the sonic fog in a sort of New Wave goth [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Tones on Tail[/lastfm]/[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Joy Division [/lastfm]way, the tin thump of a robotic heart, and the reptilian body-snatching beat of a blood thirsty “predator,” Ghostory from [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]School Of Seven Bells[/lastfm], or SVIIB, is a shoegaze exercise in cold-hearted vampiric theatrics.

All totally alive in the throbbing heartsick sob story of  the now-duo, Ben Curtis (from [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Secret Machines[/lastfm]) and Alejandra Deheza ( of [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]On! Air! Library![/lastfm]).

Without her twin sister, Claudia Deheza who left the band in 2010, Ghostory is a supernatural tale about a broken heart and the soul-starved “ghosts” that accompany it–perhaps caused by the loss of Claudia?

Broken up into sonic vignettes that set the scene of a mysterious, almost Edgar Allen Poe-ish quality story, “The Night” paints the album in washed-out, chilly indigo with Deheza singing plaintively to “devour me,” her voice a prismatic robotic shimmer amidst rapid tambourine shimmy-shakes.

Lyrics like “you have my legs” and “you have my arms” only point more to the theory that the whole album is a dedication to identical twin Claudia who left for “personal reasons.”

“Love Play,” one of the songs most reminiscent of their biggest comparison, [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]M83[/lastfm], is a less druggy, less psychedelic version of the same type of music

But the analogy ends there.

Where M83 is expansive and warm, SVIIB is beautifully sparse, their percussion a misty, salt-shaker crunch.

In this world, the shaker is empty but pounding relentlessly for the last grains, and Deheza sings fittingly, “this wasted heart you take for granted is tired out. Tell me, what did you expect?”

A favorite on the album, the [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Joy Division[/lastfm]-esque  “Lafaye,” comes complete with a dubstep-ish drop, the gothic favorite of a heart-throb beat, layered instrumentals and vocals, and that haunting, slithering feeling that leaves you feeling as if a fog inspired by the Arthurian sorceress, Morgan le Fay, is creeping through the corners of a sleeping city.

Just like “Lafaye” seems low-slinking, but transcendent, “Low Times” is a bone-crunching crocodile–gothic, lo-fi, and teeth-gnashing. A resplendent Renaissance-era feast in a mythological world of dragons crawling out of the bowels of the earth.

Deheza repeats low in a low-tone, the volume going low, the song disappearing, and towards the end, Deheza spelled out the word P-R-E-D-A-T-O-R, hearkening the coming of another song on the album, “Scavenger.”

“Scavanger” has some of the most brutal lyrics, Deheza singing “you took me like a drug to make you feel love, to make you feel wanted……I made you feel something cuz you can feel nothing. I know what you are, you’re a fake, you’re a scavenger, too scared to take part, you only take, cuz you’re a coward.”

The album ends with the tribal-ish, funky beat of a sea gypsy love song to the “White Wind” and the restlessness of the spirit to the incandescent, but long “When You Sing,” a role sister Claudia no longer takes part in, but that Alejandra successfully took on as her own.

No matter how bittersweet and haunting.

[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]School Of Seven Bells[/lastfm] - Ghostory (Vagrant Records/Ghostly International)

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1. “The Night”

2. “Love Play”

3. “Lafaye”

4. “Low Times”

5. “Reappear”

6. “Show Me Love”

7. “Scavenger”

8. “White Wind”

9. “When You Sing”

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