1. Gentle Flowerr
4. The Greatest Demise
5. S A D
6. Sleep Repeat Again
7. Dashboard Jesus
8. Losing Touch
9. Freakin Out
10. The Joy Of Living
British Rock music can be a bit of a mixed bag and the genre has been saturated for as long as I can remember. For every good band you find, there are two or three derivative ones (naming no names!) that don’t really do much to advance the genre. I’m pleased to say that Bellevue Days fall into the former camp. This is my first exposure to the South London-based four-piece and their exciting blend of Alternative Rock vibes, punky gang vocals and British Indie-inspired sound results in a very solid debut full-length for the band.
‘It Can’t Possibly Go Wrong Ever’ opens up with ‘Gentle Flower’, a tense track that takes its time setting a mood and building the anticipation. The off-kilter drum rhythms, palm-muted guitars and droning background chords create an air of unpredictability that gradually opens up to a noisier rush of sound that quickly subsides as quickly as it arrives. The dynamics are constantly changing and keeping things interesting, with the group never fully relying on just one idea on any section of this track. It’s fair to say that this band knows exactly what they’re doing when it comes to ratcheting up the tension and it’s something that they do very well across the album. The short instrumental sections of heavily affected and noisy, layered guitars that randomly pop up throughout this song and the next track ‘Shotgun’ wouldn’t sound out of place on a Built To Spill album, offering up brief moments of catharsis before quickly retreating back into itself. ‘Shotgun’ borrows what works with the first tune and takes it to unexpected new directions, combining the tense, palm-muted verses with the addition of spaced out, atmospheric lead guitar lines and slow, pummelling drums in the chorus, emulating the best aspects of Failure’s ‘Fantastic Planet’. The production on this song is heavy as anything and culminates in one of the best tracks on the album, one that contrasts nicely against the relatively straight-forward stylings of follow-up banger ‘Jouska’.
This track shows a different side to the band, one that is a bit more accessible and straight-forward than the proceeding songs. This is by no means a bad thing however, as the band offer up their catchiest hooks yet whilst still retaining some of the edge and heaviness of earlier cuts, reminiscent of recent efforts from Dinosaur Pile-Up. This catchier, more Pop-Rock influenced style continues on tracks such as ‘Losing Touch’, ‘The Joy Of Living’ and ‘Dashboard Jesus’, though with varying degrees of success. ‘Losing Touch’ uses these Pop-Rock influences sparingly, combining them with trippy, reverberated guitars, passionate screams, haunting backing vocals and a huge chorus to make one of Bellevue Days' best tracks to date, however ‘Dashboard Jesus’ takes things too far in the opposite direction. With its generic sound and predictable progression, this song tries too hard to be the ballad of the record and comes across a bit lifeless, especially in the vocal department. Despite this, the band’s natural knack for dynamics and textural guitar lead lines help rescue the track to a certain extent.
That isn’t to say that the band can’t write a good ballad however! The penultimate track ‘The Joy Of Living’ is a much catchier and more effective effort in this department, with the rhythmic and textural changes throughout always keeping you on your toes. The sweet vocal melody, strummed acoustic guitar and nostalgic lyrics evoke the memories of teenage summers from years past, but there’s a darker undercurrent here with blasts of distortion and manipulated guitar parts suggesting that all isn’t as it seems here. Again, this song shows exactly what works about Bellevue Days. Their wide array of influences can collide together in unusual ways and take you places you didn’t expect to go and it’s at these points in the album that the group really shine, offering up something you don’t generally get from a lot of British Rock these days. ‘Sleep Repeat Again’ is another shining example of this, as it starts out like an Indie-Rock track, but then blends into a heavy Neo-Grunge tune and then morphs into the 90s Alt Rock love-child of Weezer and Pixie, only getting stronger and stronger as it progresses.
There are a couple of duds on this release however, with ‘The Greatest Demise’ standing out as a particularly low point on the album. The instrumentation is intriguing in places, but the vocals are unremarkable and lack any emotion in their performance, coming across like a forgotten Indie b-side from the late 00’s. Similarly, closing track ‘Lily’ is a bit of a disappointment, however it is far more interesting than the aforementioned tune. It book-ends the album with a short, quiet acoustic epilogue, with distance sirens blaring in the background to mirror the start of the album, with the lyrics here painting a solemn picture that matches the bleak tone of the music perfectly. It provides a great change of pace and mood, but just as you’re roped in to its melancholy sounds it comes to an abrupt end at just over a minute long, which is a shame as there is plenty of potential in this track to be more than a short mood-setter.
However, these relatively low points are few and far between and don’t detract too much from what is otherwise a solid debut album from a promising band. ‘It Can’t Possibly Go Wrong Ever’ is an exciting, dynamic selection of tracks and whilst the group haven’t quite found a distinct style of their own yet, their fearlessness in taking on different genres, mood and vibes (often within the same song!) result in far more hits than misses. There is something here to please most Rock fans, with elements borrowed from across the Rock music landscape, from the heavier, more serious cuts like ‘Freaking Out’ and ‘Shotgun’, to the catchy, poppier efforts of tunes such as ‘Jouska’ and ‘The Joy Of Living’. More importantly, the band sound like they’re genuinely enjoying themselves here too, with the huge gang vocals and layered vocal harmonies throughout giving the band a real sense of unity and energy. It’s by no means a perfect album, but Bellevue Days have a lot of potential and I’m looking forward to seeing where the band takes themselves from here.
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Review - Spencer Rixon