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Radio Wars – Howling Bells
by Aidan Roberts

Are the Howling Bells engaging in a radio war’ If so then it’s likely they’re going to have a good chance at being the victor. With their second record, Howling Bells are traversing a refreshing path in an overly rocked up climate, opting out of the trend of riff-laden catastrophics and steering more toward a 1990’s European swagger. With elegant melodies and a cheeky sense of ballroom glamour, these locals are channelling the ghosts of the dark side of Brit-pop, with the twisting turning chord progressions of early Suede and Pulp living strongly beneath Juanita Stein’s pitch-perfect vocal seductions. There are some nice details in the arrangements without cluttering the songs, particularly in the rousing Cities Burning Down and the glockenspiel-driven Let’s Be Kids. The thing that makes this record most appealing is its sense of contrast – there are dark and noisy passages to keep the brain massaged, but they’re not afraid to indulge in the simple pleasure of a sweet pop song, and in doing so give it the music the detail and respect it deserves. A jolly good effort.

***1/2