The comparisons to Radiohead are inevitable for British trio Belasco. Though lead singer Tim Brownlow does tend to croon to melacholic guitars and strings much in the same way as Thom Yorke, they’re no Radiohead. Their first album, Simplicity, is a good listen, but no work of genius.
The British trio consists of Tim Brownlow on guitar and lead vocals, Bill Cartledge on drums, and Duff Battye on bass and keyboards. Their signature style consists of a quiet ambient sort of introduction that builds and builds to the climax in the chorus. At times it gives the songs momentum, but after listening to the entire album, the trick gets old. Besides the ambient shoegazer guitar, they also incorporate piano, strings, and chimes. The musical arrangements make me think of being a freshman in college. The music is a little more mature than high school angst, but not mature enough to surpass that collage freshman stage of turning-into-adult melancholy.
A few songs do stand out for their slightly different approach. The first, “Car”, is unusual because it has an upbeat piano part that is somewhat reminiscent to folk rock. This song loses the melancholy theme a bit. The song does, however, rely on their formula of building to climax at the chorus. But, their passion in the chorus at least seems honest.
Another song that doesn’t quite conform to the pattern is “Gorky”. This song is actually a waltz set in a minor key. Actually, I think all the songs are in a minor key. The song begins with a synth noise and then changes to piano. Soon an organ part chimes in, then a string bass. Other strings come in and the song sounds as though it’s some kind of modern gypsy waltz. This is probably the most unique song of the album. Finally, the most rocking song of the album is “Adore”. The song begins with blaring, driven guitars. This song is bursting with energy. It’s also highly catch—one of those songs that pops into your head ten times a day at random. The instrumentation is full between verses, but quiets down while Brownlow sings. This song is also Brownlow’s best performance as a vocalist. In “Adore” he seems to be brimming with raw emotion, that kind often found in emo voices.
I’m not exactly how I feel about Belasco. Something in me really likes them, but my brain tells me that they’re too trendy, formulaic and unoriginal. Perhaps I admire the seeming honesty to the way they perform their songs—the raw, melancholic emotion they exert. This is just their first effort. They have time to become more innovative. Anyway, I’ve given you my thoughts. So, you can decide for yourself.