The Bell – Make Some Quiet

The Bell
Make Some Quiet

Make Some Quiet marks the debut of The Bell, a Swedish band that sounds like it has spent long hours listening to the alt-rock British music of the late 80s and early 90s. If not that, at least the band has taken lessons from the generation of US bands that aped those from the first wave. But of course I say this because my own perspective on this encompasses only those movements; I have no idea what has been happening in Swedish music over the last decades, apart from that black-metal movement.

At first listen, this album struck me as having a lot in common with House of Love. It might have been the note-spare guitar lines or certain of the vocal melodies. The instant familiarity made the songs appealing. Take “Target Group” as an example. It has a workmanlike rhythm section and a few different guitar lines, sounding full in a way that most trios might have trouble pulling off. Sometimes the vocals fall into the dark deadpan of Interpol territory, as with the verses of “On the Street,” but more characteristic is the warmer “Do You Know How To Feel?” That one has “radio friendly” stamped across its grooves in the same way that Adorable always did.

Quite a few of these songs would sound at home on the radio, actually. The single “I Am History” leads off the album and it’s instantly catchy even as it gives you a feeling of distance and slight foreboding. Rhythmically akin to Snowden, masters of making the complex sound simple and vice versa, “I Am History” could be a hit.

“Leave Me” has to be the most alt-80s-sounding track. The subdued verses have lines like “You’re the dark cloud in my sky,” contrasting with the big sound of the choruses. There, the repeated refrain has an unusual cant to it which provides an unexpected bit of tension. Score one for Snowden. “On and On,” though, scores one (or two) for House of Love — between the driving, crystalline guitar and the chrorus’ vocal melodies. The reverbed drums also point to a style you heard a lot of in bands like The Chameleons (“Swamp Thing,” anyone?).

So, maybe The Bell is a little derivative. To my mind, they’re getting pretty much everything right. And to paraphrase The Van Pelt, they’re stealing from my favorite thieves, so I’m glad to have Make Some Quiet in heavy rotation at the moment.