by / October 27th, 2011 /

Howling Bells – The Loudest Engine

 2/5 Rating

(Cooking Vinyl)

Juanita Stein has a great voice, one that can be used to raise the ordinary to another level, which is, unfortunately what she’s called upon to do far to often on this, the band’s third record. She elevates the choruses with her own harmonies, creating miniature choirs with in the tracks. It saves a few numbers, but isn’t enough on some others. When she goes all ghostly falsetto on ‘Into the Sky’, it brings the drama to an otherwise stilted scene. Some songs stand out as completed pieces, ‘Secrets’, ‘The Faith’, rise above their component parts, more than the sum of the indie-rock idioms assembled beneath the swirling, teasing vocals. The title track is an insidious grower, the guitar almost reminiscent of ‘Bootilicuous’, and ‘Gold Suns, White Guns’ which sounds like a charming pastiche of ‘Never For Ever’-era Kate Bush, hints at what can be achieved by and expansion of the bands colour palette.

They’ve tried to trim it all back here, go simple, play rock and roll to try and rediscover their mojo after the sophomore slump, and they’ve done well to capture the reality of their sound, simple, live-sounding, and human, it doesn’t have an artificial sheen attempting to paper the cracks. Ultimately it comes across as a sideways step, we already knew Juanita could sing, and was an excellent melodist, but it may not be enough in this case. A band with excellent potential who are yet to raise themselves beyond being mere potential.

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  • yekim_mikey

    People who know nothing about music should not write about it.