Sunday, 14 December 2008

The Bell Divers - June, July

I've known of The Bell Divers for a few years. In fact, you could say that I know them more than the average punter, having lived with a former member, and played with most at least two of the five piece in our local futsal competition. These facts alone don’t bode well for an objective album review, so keep that in mind as you read. But wasn’t that nice of me? Admitting my inherent bias straight up like that? I thought so.

Well, I really do like their songs, and I really do like their album. I think many other people would too.

"June, July" is their Tim Whitten produced debut album. For those not in the know, Whitten is the man responsible for twiddling the knobs for quite a few popular Australian acts such as Powderfinger , Gaslight Radio, the Go-Betweens, and many others. Stylistically, the Bell Divers are closest to the aforementioned Go-Betweens.

"June, July" features the songwriting of Clinton Toghill, tackling a variety of subjects such as love, lust and lower middle class idiosyncrasies. "Life in a Caravan" and "I Love a Man in Jail" romanticises such subjects, with uplifting melodies weaved on top of tales of pool-table fornications.

Other songs such as "Swimming in the Flood" and "As Bad as We Can Be" retell tales of youth in a whimsical and yearning fashion, tunes that are immediately accessible to the more sentimental listener such as myself. Both of these tunes make good use of the extro (or outro or however you describe it), the former utilising a Rhodes-sounding piano over a driving drum beat, the latter featuring some great use of slide guitar which melds effortlessly into sweet meandering conclusion.

All the songs on the album are neatly structured, feature a good mix of instrumentation, and never become boring, a sign of adept song writing. For instance, "Window View" has a great mix of little melodies intersecting at straight angles, guitars, vocals and keys blending seamlessly in a way that just feels right. Furthermore, this song also features some well-penned lyrics, a staple of many Bell Divers songs.

However, the highlight of the record has to be the triumphant lead single, "Fallen Down", a gem of a tune which seems over much too soon, clocking in at a brisk one minute and forty-eight seconds.

Anyway, those are my thoughts, do yourself a favour and have a look into checking the Bell Divers debut album out. These guys (and one girl) are so nice they’re even giving their debut away via their website. However, I strongly encourage you to purchase it along with the single "Fallen Down", also available at their webernet site.

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