Plumbiferous Media

Disconnect from Desire – School of Seven Bells

Jul 15th 2010
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Disconnect from Desire - School of Seven BellsSchool of Seven Bells
Disconnect from Desire
Score: 32

The NYC band School of Seven Bells, founded in 2007 by Benjamin Curtis and twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, released their second album, Disconnect from Desire, on Tuesday. The band combines elements of pop and indie with electronic ambiance, combining the styles of the members’ previous bands to form a new sound. Unfortunately, this sound is less than creative, a problem which, when combined with a number of flaws in various aspects of Disconnect from Desire, leaves the album quite weak.

At its best, Disconnect from Desire‘s instrumentals are somewhat creative. This, of course, is not a compliment. Though there are occasionally fairly interesting themes and melodies, the chord progressions (or lack thereof) consistently fail to impress, and the end result is that, though still not exactly generic-sounding, the album manages to never sound the slightest bit unique. The best track of the album is most likely “Camarilla,” but the song is still long, very similar to the rest of the album, and, in short, boring.

It can be said that the tracks of Disconnect from Desire blend into each other well. Unfortunately, that’s not great for the album in this case. More accurately, all the tracks sound extremely similar, which, combined with the smooth, repeated, dreamy sounds, only results in dozing listeners. The wafting sound may be more excusable on “ILU,” where Deheza actually sings about dreams, but the instrumentals can’t just match the lyrics. They also have to be, to put it bluntly, good. The most remarkable thing about Disconnect from Desire is in how consistently and effectively the band manages to take already long tracks (the average track length is right about 5 minutes) and make them sound even longer.

Alejandra Deheza provides vocals for School of Seven Bells, sticking to an ethereal, near-disembodied style of singing. While this style of vocals would seem to fit quite well with the album’s instrumental approach, there’s very little variety in Deheza’s tone across the album, except for occasional superfluous use of effects, which do less to distinguish the sections in which they appear than to fulfill the apparent requirement that all mediocre electronic-influenced albums must use at least one. It also doesn’t help that the album’s vocals, rather than acting as a changing element of the music, seem to sit somewhere around the center of the instrumentals, never bothering to move.

Lyrically, Disconnect from Desire is not remarkable. What is remarkable, however, is the level of repetition. In what is perhaps the worst example, “Windstorm,” with the exception of the first stanza and a very short interlude, is composed entirely of two lines, repeated over and over. When the album’s not doing that, it manages to be as generically abstract as possible, with lines like “I felt my heart fainting within.” Neither approach inspires much excitement or displays much, if any, creativity.

Disconnect from Desire is a very lengthy-sounding album at only 50 minutes, almost entirely devoid of anything interesting whatsoever, and not all that fun to listen to either. A few of the tracks try to be catchy, and invariably end up not, and if the sound was supposed to be artsy, well, it’s about as interesting to listen to as a blank canvas is to stare at. The album isn’t completely awful, but nothing stands out that might redeem it for more than half a track.

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