Review Summary: I know your heart is broken/And you've been weakened/But I've been waiting here/Patiently for too long
It’s been almost three years since the tragic death of Benjamin Curtis, and considering the fact that Alejandra Deheza was the only remaining member of the band, it’d be more than understandable if she opted to disband School of Seven Bells and move on. Instead, Deheza continued working on SVIIB
, which had been partially written and recorded before Curtis’s illness. At this point, it’s pretty clear that SVIIB
will be the last album released under the School of Seven Bells name. That isn’t so much a loss as a triumph, though, because this is one hell of a bang to go out with.
“Ablaze” opens with typical indie pop fanfare, from the upbeat guitar groove and aureate drumming to Deheza’s glossy, overlaid vocals. “Open Your Eyes” heavily contrasts this with a much more ballad-influenced approach, as the poignant piano melody and Deheza’s soothing voice come together to create one of the most touching songs on the album. The lyrics add an extra layer of emotion here, as they clearly seem to be about Curtis’s struggle with his illness. Production-wise, SVIIB
feels much more open and crisp than Ghostory
and previous works, which suits the music well overall. There’s a very vivid, almost adventurous sort of feel throughout the album, from the bouncing, percussive rhythm of “Music Takes Me” to the lucid, vibrant synthesizers on “This Is Our Time”.
More than anything, SVIIB
shines in the sense that there’s a dominating sense of hope flowing through it. Alejandra Deheza herself stated that she didn’t want working on the album to be a sad thing, and it shows. Sure, songs such as “Open Your Eyes” and “Confusion” tug at the heartstrings, but they never come off as mopey or depressing. Take “Confusion”, for example; the song itself is very quiet and serene, composed mainly of a restrained synth harmony and ambient noise. Despite the solemn vibe, however, there’s no forlorn or despairing feelings emanating from the track, and it segues straight into “This Is Our Time”, which easily qualifies as the most uplifting song on the album and possibly School of Seven Bells’ discography. There’s still this comfortable, almost joyful tone pulsing through the music, and that’s ultimately the greatest strength of SVIIB
In an interview with GQ magazine, when asked if she saw SVIIB
as a eulogy, Alejandra Deheza responded by saying, “... when I see this record, I see that creative blast was there with this person I shared my life with for ten years. It’s a celebration to me personally,”. I’d be inclined to agree, because from start to finish, SVIIB
revels in the fervor and legacy of School of Seven Bells. It serves as the perfect closure to the band’s legacy, and a final nod to Benjamin Curtis as a musician. It’s passionate and even a bit sentimental at times, but just like the band itself, it ends on a high note.