By Patrick Foster
On "My Cabal," the final track of last year's "Alpinsims," School of Seven Bells conjured a breezy summer sunrise, an uplifting moment in a sea of grey and gauzy synth-pop. The clouds clear away and the trio strides into the daylight on their new disc - and even if the 10 tracks aren't as consistently wonderful as the whooshing leadoff single, "Windstorm," it still feels like a restorative dose in the middle of a blistering summer.
Formed by Benjamin Curtis (ex-Secret Machines) and sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza (ex-On! Air! Library!), the outfit claims to take its name from a South American pickpocket academy that one of the sisters saw profiled on television. Further, the Deheza sisters claim their lyrics are often written as imaginary letters between the pickpockets. Makes for nice press-kit copy, but actually concentrating on the lyrics on "Disconnect From Desire" nearly ruins the record.
Better to disconnect from words and wade into the sister's willowy and exotic voices, which slither around Curtis's crisp, percolating beats, spiraling synths and pealing, precisely placed guitar riffs. The dominating flavors of songs like "Joviann," "ILU" and "Babelonia" are Ibiza beach beats and the icy detachment of '80s synth-pop duos. But each time songs such as "Dial" or "Dust Devil" threaten to freeze in some Nordic ice place, the exotic sweep of the Deheza sisters' vocals - in harmony or peeled apart - rush in like a summer salve. The real treasure, though, is the aforementioned "Windstorm," a percolating summer concoction with a hooklike gull's cry. When it's rushing from the speakers, there's little concern that the album it comes from might be forgotten as soon as the temperature drops below 80.
Recommended tracks: "Windstorm," "Babelonia," "Camarilla"