The Bellakun – Bendicion Maldita

The Bellakun
Bendicion Maldita

Bendicion Maldita, the latest release from The Bellakun, feels like a lazy summer day. The relaxed, soothing vocals and the mid-tempo rhythms lull you into a place of relaxation. The Steely Dan keyboards flow in the background with their vibraphone- and piano-like melodies. The guitars, too, like to hide themselves away in the sound so as not to intrude on your calm repose.

Album opener “Optimism of a Deceitful Heart” will win you over: it’s catchy and appealing from the first listen. The interplay between the guitar, drums, and keyboards works well, especially during the bridge sections. There, the keyboards and drums hit the offbeats while the choppy guitar opposes them. The lyrics seem to concern a relationship breaking up and the solace to be won by facing the situation, but the heaviness of the content belies the breezy attitude of the music. Elsewhere, songs discuss politics and the failures thereof (the band is from Texas and seems to oppose the right-wing), but you’d never guess that if you were to hear this CD in passing. It sounds pretty carefree on the surface.

That said, “Fooling a Fool” does have its anxious moments, as does “Accumulated Moments.” But these are the exceptions. Most songs drift along (musically) as though the world were a place of sunshine and flowers. “Running Out of Whips” does have its “breakneck” sections, but these are only comparatively speedy.

“What We Both Want” opens with a synth pattern straight out of early-80s Simple Minds, leading to a guitar line that recalls Archer Prewitt’s work. The song’s structure consists of intro, verse, chorus, extended outro. Large sections of the song give you only bass and drums, and it gives you a glimpse into the production and engineering values of the band: pretty solid.

My only caveats to the prospective audience for Bendicion Maldita would be that these songs can sometimes wear out their welcomes before they’re ready to wrap up. That is, they tend to continue past the point of having anything new to say. Six-minute songs have a place, but they have to keep you interested. Only reinforcing this drawback, many of the songs sound like others. Are they all in the same key? Maybe that’s part of the reason (I wouldn’t know). As much as that, though, is the lack of variety in tone and effects applied to the instruments (including the vocals, which vary little from track to track). It would have been more interesting to the careful listener had there been more variety here, but ultimately would it have made for a better album? Perhaps not, as this CD does have a consistent flow and sustained mood that might only have been degraded had it any forced novelty.

The Bellakun’s artists do what they do quite well, and they have some good cuts on Bendicion. By the end of the album, though, I found myself wishing that they had changed things up a little more than they did. They have another recording in the works, and it will be interesting to hear where they go with that one: will it build from Bendicion or will it be a band comfortable with (and expert at) its established sound?