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LICE – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton
LICE

The Hope & Ruin, Brighton
The Magic Numbers – The Old Market, Hove
The Magic Numbers

The Old Market, Hove
Amber Run – Green Door Store
Amber Run

Green Door Store, Brighton
Frank Turner – The Roundhouse, London
Frank Turner

The Roundhouse, London


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Album Reviews

Belly – Dove

Belly – Dove

You just can't keep a good band down. With reunions continuing apace - even archetypal Britpop band Sleeper have recently announced they are making a new record again - Belly have just released their first album since 1995's King.

Part of the rich and so-called 'Boston Scene', that included the Pixies and The Breeders, Tanya Donnelly and the band have made an album that feels fresh and relevant, despite it being 23 years ago since King. A founding member of trailblazers Throwing Muses, Donnelly then went on to form The Breeders and played on their first album Pod before devoting her energies to Belly, a band that briefly lit up the indie landscape with the smash hit 'Feed the Tree' and debut album Star (note the four letter album titles). They were only around for four years, but time has been kind to them, their legacy not sullied by sticking around beyond their sell-by date. With such a long gap, the enthusiasm to hear more is apparent. They may have been nearly forgotten, but initial fans will never forget the energy and feral passion that they had, and the fact that the band had a rare male-female parity within its ranks, that made for an interesting inter-gender tension. Donnelly, Tom Gorman (who co-produced this album), Gail Greenwood and Chris Gorman are the same four that made King.

Yes, they may be in middle age now, but in this day and age when many westerners don't have to worry so much about simply getting by, 40 is the new 20, or 50 is the new 30 or something... The youthful vigour of their heyday has not gone, albeit there is a more mature and slightly increased nostalgic rearview to Belly. It's there on 'Shiny One', a track that unexpectedly knocked Drake off his perch in the States: shimmering, choppy and pitch-bending guitars counter-balanced by rumbling bass and a Stone Roses balearic rhythm and psychedelic flourishes.

The album's mix is healthily eclectic. From the mildly rocking 'Mine' (complete with a Kim Deal-esque taut bassline) to the brace of country-infused tracks 'Girl' and 'Artifact', the anthemic 'Human Child’, the MOR highway rock of 'Stars Align', and the prowling, jangle-rich 'Army of Clay' ("I see the truth break all over your face, like a bad egg"). Belly (three of the band are songwriters) continue to face a life full of relationship mini-battles, much like in their early 90s heyday, but with a spirited beating heart at its core.

For sure, there is the inevitable rearview look here and there, but Donnelly et al refuse to wallow in rose-tinted nostalgia, instead marching purposefully on with a bagful of excellent new songs, along with a more sophisticated musicality, at their disposal. As Donnelly sings on the CD's hidden track 'Starryeyed': "Starryeyed we rode all night, and you raised the dead". Yes, Belly have come back from the dead, and are riding high again.

Jeff Hemmings

Website: bellyofficial.com
Facebook: facebook.com/bellytheband

 


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