Thursday, July 10, 2008

Reviews:: Belleisle Longstanding

label :: myspace

The good people at Ships at Night Records are putting out quality release after quality release. First and foremost, they exposed us to Plants & Animals, as well as terrific acts like Orillia Opry and Percy Farm. The quirky pop they delivered consistently overachieved and helped make the small Montreal label one worthy of our attention.

Well, next on their release schedule (Aug. 12th/08) is the debut record from Belleisle. On the surface, Longstanding, might seem to be another solid mix of folk and sunshine, but when you sit down and soak it the songs you notice the edges creep into the shadows and the girls have a darker side that is brought out by the band and supporting players.

Tasha Cyr and Rebecca Silverberg started out as friends, trading songs long before they started writing together. Over time they developed a song writing rapport and used that to start a band. While that might sound like everyone you know, when it came time to add other members, their songs had already evolved into a single sound, but one that could morph with each new perspective that was added. Guitar (I Love You), starts as a simple folk track that probably was born on a couch or back porch. It's not much more than Tasha's voice and guitar, but the underlying organ and drum flourishes her band mates add take the polish off the song without stripping away the intimacy. It's that urban city grit that surfaces (throughout all the songs really) that makes this record work.

There is no denying that both girls have terrific pipes and can write ear pleasing melodies (Talks a Lot shows Rebecca taking the lead equally well), but both prefer to muddy up the mix to add a sense of reality to the songs. Whether it's Kess Dekker's (who also recorded this recorded and Plants & Animals latest and greatest) feedback filled guitar or Ben Lemieux's distorted bass, the bands always seems to add a bit of gruff muscle that prevent the songs from becoming all too perfect folk. Lots of women have the voice and syrupy sweet guitar sounds, but good records need more than good voices.

Sure, songs like Flowers and Coffee, Coasting and Winter Under Covers might be those weightless, summer tracks we all love, but it's pretty obvious that Belleisle isn't living a fairytale existence. The brutal honesty of the slinky Better Than Reality changes the vibe of the record, and even Waking Up Slowly breaks the lazy stretches of the morning sun with a quick snap of the electric. The notes on Geography crash like waves on a stormy coastline; a perfect wash of textures and fuzz that hides the power of the song and lets the clarity of simple piano line pierce through and grab your ear.

Thirteen songs might seem like a bold number for a acoustic driven debut, but Bellisle is more than up to the task. In fact, the album closer - Trying - is one of the most adventurous and engaging on the album. The melodica, tapped percussion and trumpet that shape the song fit together perfectly and make it impossible to not fall in love with the song. Longstanding is a record that is destined to be left on repeat, as the mood of the songs seem to move perfectly alongside yours, no matter what that mood may be.


Belleisle - Geography
Belleisle - Talks a Lot

Posted at 2:43 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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