Not ones to hang around, the School Of Seven Bells step up to album number two – building on everything that made their first record such a beguiling listen.
With artistic success comes greater conviction, and there is a greater certainty to their beats, their melodies and even their lyrics this time around. All are once again dressed in that trademark production haze much beloved of the Cocteau Twins and Robin Guthrie, perfect for a hot day’s listen.
But one quality of their debut is lacking: their vulnerability. That may sound like an odd thing to be pining for, but part of the appeal of Alpinisms was its fragility as it found a perfect balance between enchantment and uncertainty.
The enchantment remains this time round, though the beats are more beefed up. As a result the pop sensibilities are given greater emphasis, the music driving forward with the inevitability of a My Bloody Valentine or even M83.
In fact comparisons with their fellow stargazers are perhaps inevitable, but instead of heading on starry space travel, as M83 seem to do, School Of Seven Bells head deeper into the forest. There they find a blissful repose in what feels like a deep, close-knit web of trees, working their magic with beautiful songs such ILU, Babelonia and the multi-layered harmonies of Windstorm.
At times the wall of sound is all consuming, especially on headphones, while in the more beat driven tracks, such as Heart Is Strange, the impulse to turn the volume skyward is irresistible. The dimensions are greater, and the record itself feels longer than Alpinisms, a more substantial statement in the making if not quite as captivating.
Sure, they may have lost their vulnerability, but School Of Seven Bells suit their new found assurance, and in doing so win our hearts for a second time.