CD, 限定版, インポート, 2009/5/12
Limited two CD edition pressing of their 2009 sophomore album includes a bonus seven track live CD and beautiful additional artwork. If their debut could easily be the soundtrack for the beautifully haunted world of Twin Peaks, their sophomore effort would be their leap into the blockbuster mainstream. There's a formidable richness here, a glorious depth and maturity and growth which takes the Howling Bells' sound into hitherto unexplored terrain, aided, in no small part, by the expertise of producer extraordinaire Dan Grech-Marguerat.
Radio Wars does not differ from this template. All that has changed is the ratio of pop to rock. Where previously Stein convulsed with meaning now she coos passively. Like the debut, Radio Wars' stand out moments appeal. `Cities Burning Down' welcomes back the trademark menace, the latter half of the title track is sinister melody embodied. `Into The Chaos' picks up where `Low Happening' left off, but is neutered in comparison.
The weaker tracks on the album are sadly bland to the point of banality. `Nightingale' is a cadent pop-rock piece, delivered lethargically. `Let's Be Kids' reintroduces the shoe-gazy element of the debut, vocally recalling the Cocteau Twins afresh, but it's a pity these lyrics are so trite. The musical backdrop is frustrating indie Muzak. `Golden Web' is an inadvisable and wistful duet, which embraces lost love against a spider and fly analogy.
Radio Wars is not a bad album, let that be clear. In fact, it is a lot better than initial listening suggests. The good does indeed outweigh the bad, but the so-so outweighs both. The problem with promise is sustainability. It is rare to achieve commercial and critical success and Radio Wars appears to have aimed to please the former rather than the latter. Only time will tell if the radio bites.
On dit souvent que le 2ème album est moins bon que le 1er: c'est complètement vrai concernant les Howling Bells..
Howling Bells most reminds me of Muse with their prominent driving percussion, excellent guitar work, and appropriately placed keyboard segments. The big difference is the hauntingly gorgeous voice of lead singer, Juanita Stein. Her voice is near perfect. She could make any song pleasurable.
"Radio Wars" is Howling Bells' second release. You can find several of their songs on YouTube. My favorites from the album include:
"Cities Burning Down" - Sounds like a Coldplay or Muse tune, but with Juanita's vocal cords at the helm.
"Nightingale" - As cornball as this may sound, the hand clapping beat is genius for this song (also worked well in concert). A song with a simple hook that draws you in.
"Treasure Hunt" - A driving beat supports Juanita's ethereal voice. Backing vocals also work well on this track. Howling Bells knows how to milk but not suffocate a great riff.
While you're surfing the web, check out "Setting Sun" and "Low Happening" from their first album. I sure hope Howling Bells continues a climb to stardom providing us with audio treats like "Radio Wars" along the way. Maybe a 5 star CD would be nice. I can't quite give this album 5 stars; I reserve 5 stars for CDs like Natalie Merchant's "Tigerlilly".