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Bell

EP

(self-released; US: n/a; UK: n/a)

Later on in 2008, Bell will be a much more recognizable name. If she’s not, then there really is no logic to who gets recognized in the music world. Music this good deserves any recognition it gets. These six songs are, at heart, energetic and emotive piano pop. And if that were all they were, they’d still be excellent. Instead, Olga Bell builds deconstructionist squalls around them, and isn’t afraid to show you the seams. The EP starts with a crowd cheering, implying a live quality to the music that is coming, an immediacy. But, just a few seconds in, Bell brilliantly cuts up the crowd noise and uses it in spurts as the backbeat to “Echinacea”, the first track. There is a confidence in the way Bell gives her process away, in how she lets us the see the songs piece by piece. It makes the thick compositions all the more inviting, and allows us closer to her hard-felt bellow of a voice, backed by piano and guitar nearly as percussive as the album’s fantastic drumming.


On top of these beautiful sounds are lyrics that strike you just as strangely. “I try to run, and look to the sun, but it just makes me sneeze, and no one will bless me,” she sings at one point. And, were it not for her striking vocals, the words might be too goofy to pull off. But they work, and sound fresh every time she sings them. Bell’s real strength is that she crafts songs that are super-melodic but also meandering. The tunes never give into their structures, pulling from them at every turn And Bell pulls with them, giving a performance on each track that is both charming and surprising, full-force but with just the right amount of restraint. Bell must have a full-length somewhere up her sleeve. And even if it only equals this EP, it’ll be a hell of a record.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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