“Crystal Theatre” – Belles Will Ring
Hailing from the Blue Mountains in NSW, psychedelic four-piece Belles Will Ring return with a sophisticated sophomore album that demonstrates an increased maturity in sound and explores ideas of love, escape and isolation. The loose fitting folk themes are underlaid with reverb soaked guitars and gentle harmonies that will make you wish you were lying on a grassy field in the sunshine somewhere far, far away.
Crystal Theatre, recorded in a country estate in NSW, follows a critically acclaimed debut album (Mood Patterns, 2007) with a similar sound and lyrical context and yet it is a fuller recording in many ways. Primary songwriters Liam Judson and Aiden Roberts introduce themes that are no doubt inspired at least partially by their extensive touring experience following their debut release. Ideas of escape, whether it’s from the big city, unforseen problems or fate are prominent throughout the album. “Come to the village” is the beckoning opening line, setting the backdrop and theme beautifully for the songs to follow. There are strong emotional undercurrents throughout the album, the recurring and overall theme being love and loss of love, always with a psychedelic folk twist, illustrated best on ‘The River’; “Come down to the riverbed tonight. My soul and my body open wide”. Lyrically, the album manages to tread a fine line between heart wrenching and uplifting, to great effect.
Complementing the meaningful lyrics are reverb soaked, delicate guitars, tribal drum fills and multi-layered harmonies that blend together to form a very sophisticated sound. The build-ups are placed strategically and work upwards subtly yet surely. The intro song, ‘Crystal Theatre’ demonstrates this nicely, where the harmonies build up slowly, only to fade subtly away and make way for the catchy bass line in the next song, ‘Come To The Village’. Key tracks include the lyrically perfect ‘Trouble In Deepwater’ and the psychedelic epic, ‘The River’. ‘Bald Mountain’, a folk tale of the death of free will is also a definite strength, the addictive guitars strongly reminiscent of Californian indie rockers, Warpaint. While these are some of the highlights, there are no real weaknesses on the album.
However, the true marvel of Crystal Theatre is the perfect unison of sound and lyrical meaning resulting in an ability to transport you to a strange, peaceful place. In this way, Crystal Theatre will create a unique meaning of its own. Perhaps it is the sound you would hear inside some imaginary, grand crystal theatre, where the seats are made of gems and the stage is hidden behind a wonderful, glittering waterfall. Or maybe it’s something else. Close your eyes, listen, and Crystal Theatre will take you where you yearn to be.
– Andy Szollosi