At once fun and melancholy, witty and sincere, it’s the perfect vessel for an entirely unique sound, characterised by the lusciously deep harmonies of sisters Kate and Jen Abineri.
Anyone who’s seen The Belle Havens live knows of the raven-haired, blue-eyed charisma the girls hold and as the album kicks off with a quixotic naked bass-line, it’s impossible not to draw some comparison to The Breeders. Here, Bleed Me is a boisterous yet lyrically assertive preface to this collection of what often feels like whimsical short stories.
The band’s trademark sound is due largely to the tandem play of the girls’ voices. In particular, Kate’s richly unique lead vocals with their bottomless baritone edge and creative inflections are a rare gem. Jen also issues shimmering guitar riffs that meander throughout beautifully providing an edgy backbone. Add to this the playful craftsmanship of Gavin (Source) Stocker’s sleek bass lines and Dave Furniss’s percussive potency and you have a recipe for smacking good tunes.
The super catchy Astronauts is one of these; an exploratory celebration of all things peculiar, from “salty swimming things” to “all things that flap their wings”. It’s impossible not to get this one stuck in your head for days and it simply begs for a shameless sing-along. Blame gets a little cheekier and I’d love to know who this one’s written about. A fierce reflection on lame excuses and triumphant karma, it’s delivered with a mocking lilt while riding a perky-as-hell bass line.
The mood shifts for Narita, where harmonies are all at once hypnotic and enchanting before Let Me Sleep induces a shiver of proverbial sadness as a soul-baring ode to unrequited love. From here Quiet Please ramps things up again as a wicked bass line underpins smacking, jerky guitar riffs in a stern remonstration to loud people on public transport. We all know the ones!
My personal favourite is Spy Song because it’s just so fun! A tantalising bass line sets the tone for subterfuge and the first few words paint the stalky scene perfectly; “Please don’t take this the wrong way… I followed you home today”. Mr F is similarly tongue-in-cheek and Jen’s luscious vocals lead here for a change with Kate providing a gorgeous unusually higher pitched backing.
The way the girls’ voices coalesce for Victor and Vivienne is entirely disarming and it’s a track that swoons and soars as one of the most memorable. Its position towards the end here is a brilliant wrap-up alongside Mars, one the guys often wrap up a live show with to hearty sing-alongs.
It’s not often a band can lay claim to such a unique sound and lyrically idiosyncratic style from the get go. The Belle Havens have accomplished a dexterous debut, and if you get the chance to see them live you should definitely hop to it!