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Belly - Dove (Album Review)

Tuesday, 29 May 2018 Written by Ben Gallivan

A long wait can either result in a satisfying conclusion or a huge letdown. ‘Dove’ is Belly’s first album since 1995 and if it’s not quite the latter, it’s certainly not the former. And repeated plays do little to solve its problems.

You’d have been forgiven for thinking that Belly never really went away, such was the lingering mark they left on the alt-indie scene thanks to their influential, of-the-era mid-'90s branding and musical output. But the fact is, this is their first LP in a generation.

The gap trounces the eternity Guns N’ Roses fans waited for ‘Chinese Democracy’ and the half a decade whiled away in anticipation of the Stone Roses’ ‘Second Coming’, but it is equally as disappointing as those records.

It’s a depressingly familiar moment when you realise that ‘Star’ – the album that brought us Feed the Tree and Gepetto – is 25 years old. The former reached the UK Top 40…Mark Goodier would have announced it on a Sunday evening and everything – can you imagine?

But this isn’t 1993. It’s 2018 and ‘Dove’ is achingly ordinary. Blessed though we are with the original line-up, and with Tanya Donelly’s voice still sounding as sweet and mischievous as ever, time has taken its inevitable toll.

There aren’t many short, punchy numbers here. You need to set aside 30 minutes just to get through the opening half of the record, but there is little reward for your time. Things start off strongly – the tremelo-soaked intro of Mine leads into a catchy whooping chant and those trademark Belly harmonies – but you can’t help but think the tempo could be raised a notch to make it truly memorable. The plodding pace continues on lead single Shiny One and Human Child, which are both over five minutes long and fail to set the album alight.

It’s not until the second half that the Belly of old shine through. Army of Clay is the standout track; it’s menacing, driven and something of a sonic boom compared to what has gone before. The chorus may not be killer, but it definitely makes the ears prick up. The same goes for Stars Align, which, while not as engrossing, has got enough going for it in terms of variation on Belly’s key themes.

‘Dove’ then goes out with a whimper thanks to the outstandingly MOR Quicksand and, despite its best efforts, the country-tinged Artifact. Above all, there’s a feeling that we’re getting an album of Donelly’s more mediocre solo offerings than the full-blown Belly experience we've been waiting so long for.

Belly Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat June 09 2018 - PORTSMOUTH Wedgewood Rooms
Sun June 10 2018 - BRISTOL SWX Bristol
Mon June 11 2018 - CARDIFF THE GLEE CLUB
Tue June 12 2018 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Wed June 13 2018 - LEEDS Leeds Beckett Students Union
Thu June 14 2018 - WHITLEY BAY Playhouse, Whitley Bay
Sat June 16 2018 - GLASGOW O2 ABC
Sun June 17 2018 - SHEFFIELD Leadmill
Mon June 18 2018 - NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms
Tue June 19 2018 - BRIGHTON Concorde 2
Wed June 20 2018 - LONDON O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
Wed August 22 2018 - BELFAST Limelight 2

Click here to compare & buy Belly Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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