Sunday, October 28, 2018

Belly Dove 2018

Belly were a fine band that made two excellent records in Star 1993 and King 1995 and then vanished. Tanya Donelly soldiered on as solo artist, and made some good records. But Belly was special. Sweet Ride, a compilation released in 2002, was a splendid swan song.

So now, more than twenty years later, the original line-up reconvenes. There's a fair amount of good news to report, even if this one doesn't quite rise to the level of their 1990s work.

The first four songs hold out the promise of a perfect return to form. Mine kicks things off with big hooks, reverb-drenched vocals, solid guitar and lots of melody. Shiny One keeps it going with razor sharp guitars and a fine arrangement. Human Child is the Big Anthem, and is fine arena rock all the way. The distorted guitars and sunny background vocals of Faceless spell smart music making.

Suffer The Fools and Girl both offer somewhat less magic, and the melodies seem less unique than Donellly's best songs. Then Army Of Clay and Stars Align make a comeback, but not quite all the way. Quicksand is a good ballad with space-y vocals, and Artifact is a strong mid-tempo rocker with steel guitar that's good. But then it ends with not one but two closing ballads, the acoustic Heartstrings and Staryeyed that sound like some of Donelly's recent solo work, but not so much like Belly.

If you'd love to hear that great band from the early nineties again, the first four songs will thrill you. Some of the rest is darn good, and at least two more hearken back to their heyday. So now they've made two and a half great original studio records. Fans will rejoice. The curious should still start with Sweet Ride if you've never heard Belly.