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School of Seven Bells (Sort of) Celebrate a New Release

February 29th, 2012

School of Seven Bells – Mercury Lounge – February 28, 2012


Mercury Lounge is too small a venue to contain the School of Seven Bells’ expansive sound. With sprawling guitar melodies reminiscent of shoegazers My Bloody Valentine, the band’s very first instrumental almost knocked all the air out of the place as if there weren’t enough room for anything other than their colossal sound. After years of almost nonstop touring, as a group and opening for Interpol, School of Seven Bells have their live sound remarkably tight. There was no squeak or sound that wasn’t exactly where it belonged.

In a 2008 interview with NPR, lead singer Alejandra Deheza described how the band writes songs the opposite way of most others, starting with the lyrics and writing a song around them. The unusual creative process shows in the final product. It’s almost as if each song crafts its own unique world for Deheza’s voice and lyrics to call home. With her gold jewelry, dangling earrings and jet-black hair, Deheza looked almost like Cleopatra. Yet onstage she remained modestly elegant, never trying to take the spotlight from any other band member. She did that with her voice, one that’s gentle yet assertive and cuts through everything else.

Last night at Mercury Lounge marked the official release of the School of Seven Bells’ third full-length album, Ghostory, a special occasion guitarist Benjamin Curtis only really hinted at throughout the show before humbly stating, “We had a record come out today” during their encore, as though it were an afterthought. And with a set list sampling from all three of their albums, the set was not by any means an “album-release party.” Why let anything else be the highlight of the show when the music’s so good? —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of JC McIlwaine | jcmcilwaine.com