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Bell Gardens - Full Sundown Assembly (Album Review)

Wednesday, 05 September 2012 Written by Ben Bland
Bell Gardens - Full Sundown Assembly (Album Review)

Pop music

Don’t you just love it?

ImageNowadays it is a few and far between when a true pop album will capture you with its deepest sincerity and sweetness, with its emotions and, more importantly, with its tunes. Long gone are most bands that made proper pop music an art. So it is as much of a shock to me as it is to you that Bell Gardens have turned up and unleashed a record of such genuine pop goodness that it threatens to knock The Beach Boys off my vinyl shelve. This is clever, articulate and brimmed with the sort of delightful musical refrain that doesn’t just make sense but makes birds sing and trees sway delicately in the wind.

To say that this record is just a pop album would be hugely misleading however. Anyone familiar with Brian McBride’s work in Stars of the Lid will not be surprised by the delicacy and beauty of the textures on this album, yet in this context they just add to the warm immediacy of this album. Tracks like 'Through the Rain' and 'South' may be all about the replay value but they are also all about the sweeping sonic palette that 'Full Sundown Assembly' makes incredible use of. Sitting on top, like the proverbial cherry, are the gorgeous, soothing vocals of Kenneth James Gibson.

Bearing some comparisons, in terms of tone if not particularly instrumentation, with last year’s superb 'Kaputt' by Destroyer, this debut Bell Gardens full-length may just be the closest the last decade has come to interesting and intriguing pop. In a world where the p word is often bandied around to refer to the latest manufactured crap coming off The X Factor, that may sound strange, but this is an album with such fantastic songs that the idea of someone sticking it on and not humming along within twenty minutes frankly seems incomprehensible, and yet is is often unconventional in its stylistic choices.


'Full Sundown Assembly' is out on Monday via Southern Records.

If the last two sentences didn’t make you want to buy it then you are probably a cold hearted 70s prog fan from Coventry...or something.


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