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School of Seven Bells – Put Your Sad Down EP

on November 13, 2012, 7:58am

In the accompanying press release, Benjamin Curtis claims that his latest EP with Alejandra Deheza as School of Seven Bells, Put Your Sad Down, is “the most fun Alley and I have had making music in a long time,” and it shows. It’s as if the duo has exorcised the ghostly haunt of their last album by undertaking the action of the EP’s title.

A sprawling epic of an opening, the title track begins with a crash course in what has made SVIIB so alluring over the past five years, namely, the fuzzy, ethereal sounds of shoegaze blended with gothy synthpop undertones. At the six-minute mark, everything gets dialed back to a several moments of desolate dissonance, the darkness creeping back in, before the dance-floor beats kick back in and hit for keeps.

Although Deheza’s sister Claudia left the band in 2010, the tradition of twin harmonies carries on thanks to layering and multi-tracking. While remaining true to the dream pop trope of wispy and indecipherable on a cover of Silver Apples’ “Lovefingers”, Deheza’s dramatic delivery exudes a purposed clarity on “Painting a Memory”, even lending an aggressive tone to “Secret Days”.

Recalling Trent Reznor’s recent work, “Secret Days” finds the duo dropping atmospherics for a spirited jaunt through bass-laden industrial glitches, the next best thing to a Curve comeback. Compared to Ghostory and its pockets of heat beneath a glacial surface, Put Your Sad Down exudes warmth, its playfulness invigorating the ever-evolving SVIIB and further pushing the boundaries of the “nu gaze” movement.

Essential Tracks: “Put Your Sad Down”, “Secret Days”

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