on August 19, 2010
The first Trembling Bells release 'Carbeth' was astounding. A combination of New-Brit-Folk, DIY, Brass Band and Avant-Garde that left me gobsmacked (and wanting more). It was my favorite release of 2009, but I feared that this might be a one-off project. And now, one year on...Abandoned Love. Their creative palette has expanded a bit, but the underlying impulse is even stronger, as are the songs. Oh...and there was a breakup, which is really none of our business EXCEPT it is all here in full view. This adds serious punch to the album. No neo-hippies of love here, then. The songs are brutally cutting, heartfelt and honest. Appropriately the Bells have added some pedal steel to a couple tracks, fitting as this is all failed-dreams and failed connections. Carbeth wasn't all sunbeams , but Abandoned Love feels like pure loss, as it meanders through haunting melodies ('Love Has Made an Outlaw of My Heart', 'Baby Lay Your Burden Down'). But the songs are never simple, they are always developing. I have not heard such an powerful statement of love, hope and loss since Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. This is a classic album.
on July 8, 2010
I was quite surprised to see that Trembling Bells had rushed out a second album this year. Last year's debut "Carbeth" blew me away with a loopy take on medieval sounds and folk music, underscored with a rock edge. It was so assured, so weird and wonderful and so strange I felt surely this is a group that had a strong vision.
Instead this second album takes the same general sound- muted vocals from wailing Lavinia, nasally sing talker male frontman, and loopy horns and explores lots of other dormant types of music. The lyrics have lost that strange medieval narrative story quality ("We went out walking on the hills of Carbeth, and you were naming trees...") and experiments with it a lot of other types of music. Americana?? Popsongs?? Generic lyrics like "All I ever wanted was you" There's a lot of crowing about anonymous "you" on here. Without the context of the folky medievalness it all just sounds like bad experimentation Instead of shoring up what made them great, they clearly have no producer who wants to guide them to hone what made them interesting.
It's a shame...