I dunno what happened. I used to swear by my aversion to the female singing voice. I was so ridiculous that I actually, physically refused to listen to females (other than my mother and Dionne Warwick) sing. Call it what you want; sexism, idiocy, gender issues, or hell maybe even too much Michelle Branch in the late nineties, in any case until very recently I was a musical sexist.
I can’t exactly pinpoint the exact moment I saw the error of my ways and realized I was being a douche, but I think it had something to to do with seeing Florence & the Machine open for MGMT on their ’08 tour. She was just so charismatic and had all of this amazing talent and presence. I guess it made me see that my ill founded prejudice was just keeping me from a whole world of girly musical opportunity.
But, as per usual, I digress.
You see, there’s kinda this band called School Of Seven Bells (SVIIB for short… Get it? It’s clever!) and they kinda are amazing and wonderful. I hate to arbitrarily pin down types of music to decades because I find it ineffective and reductive, but it’s got to be said that there’s a definitive revival going on of that special 80’s brand of “tribal” electronica (think Strange Charm era Gary Numan)/70’s prog rock going on. In a lot of ways the extended single from SVIIB’s re-released debut Alpinisms, falls into that tradition, but not in a kitschy “oh-let’s-make-an-eighties-sounding-song-cuz-it’s-ok-to-be-nostalgic-about-the-eighties-now” kind of way. To superficially compare the track to other artists, Iamundernodisguise sounds a bit like Telepathe and Fever Ray’s trippy love child.
Let me explain. This band, in both their philosophy and their music, seem more like a religious sect than a musical group. Bandmates and twin sisters (how often does that happen?) Alejandra and Claudia Deheza met their musical soulmate Benjamin Curtis while they were both opening for Interpol in their respective (and at that point separate) bands. I’m assuming that at some point some sort of crazy 5th dimensional soul connection took place because shortly after the three moved in together and boarded the resplendent dream-glass vessel that was to be Alpinisms. Psychotic right? But as cool as all of that is, my favorite thing about this band (other than the fact that they’re named after a mystical South American Oliver Twist, kid thief academy kind of deal), is that they write their lyrics before they write their music. As said by Benjamin Curtis in an NPR interview, the lyrics and vocals are the most important part of the sound:”To me, that’s the most important part of School of Seven Bells,” Curtis says. “Everything else is accompaniment, you know, in my opinion.”
That’s not to say that instrumentation, melody and nuance gets left on the back-burner. If anything, listening to SVIIB is a complete experience. It doesn’t flaunt its decadence, instead it allows you to float in a kind of nebulous ethereal sea of focused chaos. For me, it’s a thing of beauty.
Give Iamundernodiguise a listen, and even if you don’t love it, it will at the very least make your life more interesting. I cannot wait to hear the rest of the album!