Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Album Review: Hurricane Bells - Tides and Tales

The latest full-length record from Steve Schlitz’s Hurricane Bells, Tides and Tales, is a mixed bag, albeit one with a touch of charm.

Tides and Tales waffles between simple and over-produced songs creating an uneven listening experience. Schlitz wrote, recorded, produced, mixed and released the album almost entirely on his own, but it doesn’t sound consistent.

Much of the record sounds too reminiscent of the early 00’s. “Hours Like Days” recalls a number of popular band from the era (Stars, Broken Social Scene, Postal Service) and feels repackaged. Pulling inspiration from the past isn’t always a bad thing, but in this case it feels unoriginal.

Hurricane Bells does mix it up with creative intros, but the creativity doesn’t often carry through. The record is technically sound and the melodies make for decent pop music. It’s just missing a bit of heart.

When Schiltz simplifies things, the music feels a bit more unique. “House on Fire” breaks away from the polish of Tides and Tales with a layer of fuzz. The song digs into a simple melody through repetition to make it the most memorable track from the album. The peaceful plucking on “Flowers in the Dirt” makes its sombre tone seem less forced.

With Tides and Tales, it sounds like Hurricane Bells is trying too hard to please fans gained from the bands’ inclusion on the Twilight soundtrack. The band goes for epic and moody, but they’re at their best when they keep it simple.

Tides and Tales is out today on Invisible Brigades.

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