Every music geek has a pair of headphones they value above all others. Maybe it’s those earbuds that shut out the other commuters on the subway, or maybe it’s the full studio set that lets you hear bits in your favorite songs you’ve never heard before. Whatever your pair, the reason you own them is to experience music on a different level. Music can be enjoyed in many different ways, but there are albums that come along that seem to be tailor made for headphones, and the new School Of Seven Bells record, Ghostory, certainly belongs in that category.
The genre of “Dream Pop” tends to have a few different definitions. For me, it generally means that the artist involved uses synths and vocal effects to create a soundscape that one can see with their eyes closed. Ghostory achieves this, and then some. The album has a cinematic feel from track one, the dazzling up-tempo rocker “The Night.” Alejandra Deheza‘s vocals echo and swoon over the distorted keyboards and throttling beats created by the multitalented Benjamin Curtis. It pulsates with excitement, but never gets lost in its own production. This track is just begging to be set to the opening credit sequence of an indie romantic comedy, or a montage where the main character has their confidence restored.
Ghostory has many moods, from the dark and danceable “Lafaye,” to the gentle sway of the breathy gem “Reappear.” The album’s best tracks find seem to marry the two extremes, such as on “Love Play,” the most unpredictable of the set. The subtle tonal shifts in the tune can slip by if you’re not enjoying it as the headphone candy that it is meant to be. I sincerely recommend this track, and the equally as enticing “Low Times” for putting on your iPod and turning up to eleven.
I’ve been through the record a few times now, and each time I find myself impressed with something else about the album’s production. It’s easy to lose the beauty of a live vocal performance when it is drenched in reverb, but rather than distract from Deheza’s stunning alto, Curtis’ augments her just enough to make her delivery sound right at home in his otherworldly sonic paradise.
Curtis and Deheza funnel all of their influences into the album closer “When You Sing”, an eight minute ode to popular song. Elements of Blondie-style hard driving rock and roll meld effortlessly with the groups more ethereally stylized harmonies to make one hell of an ending to an otherwise truly compelling album. Ghostory rocks, soothes, and sweeps you up into a dreamy reality you won’t want to wake up from.
Right now in the iTunes music store, you can find other great releases from Vagrant Records for $7.99. I recommend checking out School Of Seven Bells’ previous album Disconnect From Desire, Little Hell and Bring Me Your Love by City and Colour, Up From Below by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Major/Minor by Thrice, and Sweet Sour by Band Of Skulls. You can find all the albums on sale here.