In 2004, when four Sydney-siders found themselves with the opportunity to create a band, they doubted it would be fruitful. During their support tours for the Killers and Placebo, they still began to doubt that this was going to lead anywhere. However, five years later, after playing European tours for two years, as well as playing during the NME awards, Howling Bells find themselves with a solid new album Radio Wars that finally announces their sound with a proud resonating distinction.
Their sound could easily be compared to that of Silversun Pickups. The band is similar in the sense that they create a smooth, quiet and yet somehow so distinctive sound without being abrasive. Juanita, the lead singer, distorts and manipulates her voice so that it floats and peaks at the perfect moment creating melody and then complete dissonance making her pieces all interesting.
Radio Wars begins with a floating ostinato encouraging the smooth vocals to express themselves over the obscure and fascinating mix of synth, guitar and bass. Treasure Hunt is a great opening point for the band, accurately showcasing their talents as well as gaining interest as soon as it starts.
The fourth track on the album Nightingale gives the band a whole new perspective on their sound with a slightly more melodic approach. The song almost feels as though it’s going to be an anthem for someone and their hard times, giving hope to those that need it.
To match Juanita’s impressive voice is Joel Stein on guitar. His technique, while may seem sparse during their songs, seems to be what punctuates and adds colour to each song. With interesting ostinatos, and perfect execution of his parts adds that final touch to make the tracks presentable and definitely interesting.
Golden Web is a standout track for the band. Relying more heavily on synth and bass throughout the song, it’s also accented by an off beat clap which creates a disjointed feeling that perfectly harmonises with the song and its content about being caught and trapped by a spider. The haunting nightmare is perfectly represented by these parts throughout the song, and definitely worth checking out.
The single from Radio Wars is called Into the Chaos and is definitely another standout track for the band. Showcasing each of their talents accurately, while also being disarmingly catchy. The song has received a fair amount of airplay on Australia’s independent radio network, while also still remaining a favourite among fans. The lyrical content is once again showcased throughout the musical parts played by the rest of the band. Chaotic drum beat and guitar licks, with pure moments of clarity, the song is easy to listen to, while also being interesting without becoming dull.
Howling Bell’s second album Radio Wars, a double sided affair, packed full of winning singles, as well as anthem songs that you will be able to find a use for, is available now. Check out their website here, or have a look at their record company if you’re interested in grabbing a copy.
Standout Tracks: Treasure Hunt, Nightingale, Golden Web, Into the Chaos, How Long
Rating: 4.5/5 stars