Album Reviews

Cyann & Ben – Sweet Beliefs

(Ever) UK release date: 18 September 2006

Have you ever found yourself standing under a slate grey sky, precariously balanced on jagged rocks with water lapping just inches from your feet? Ever stared out across the ocean, then closed your eyes, and waited for the sound of a freak wave building just off shore? It’s that wave that’s going to hit you, pull you off those rocks, and one way or another change your life for ever.

No? Well my friends you haven’t lived. Not that this kind of behaviour should be encouraged of course, after all, such a notion could easily be construed as madness. As it happens, should such an urge take you, there is now an entirely viable alternative option.

French quartet Cyann & Ben have created an album in Sweet Beliefs that can simulate just such an experience.

Here is a record that, from the opening bars of Words, to the closing moments of final track Sparks of Love creates a feeling of utter peace, and incredible unease. The music you’ll find on Sweet Beliefs draws of the likes of post rock bands such as Godspeed, new folk types Espers (in fact Greg Weeks crops up on the sublime Sunny Morning), and the electonica of Kraftwerk. Each and every second of it is a joy and a thinly veiled threat.

You’ll find yourself paddling in pools of ruminating guitars and gently murmured vocals trying to enjoy the ambience of song, only to find a troublesome nagging itch at the back of your mind. Underneath the calm exterior of these songs is a brooding sense of discomfort that simply cannot be masked. Try and go to sleep with Cyann & Ben singing you a lullaby, and you’ll be guaranteed a restless night.

Perhaps it’s in the synths and keyboards that add a definite twitch of paranoia to these tunes. Maybe it’s the guitars that stretch out seemingly forever, in search of some kind of truth that lies at the heart of these songs. Or maybe, it’s just that these songs allow you the time and the inclination to focus on the things in swirling around in your head.

Melancholia pervades this album. The delicate piano of Somewhere In the Light of Time coupled with the velvet vocals of Cyann is achingly beautiful. Guilty’s rolling drums and constantly repeating guitar lines fill the psyche like pendulous storm clouds. Incredibly, somewhere along the line they manage to sound like some kind of suicidal Mariachi group. Yet despite the seemingly depressing tone of the album, Sweet Beliefs is an uplifting and joyful experience. It’s the reason people pray to be swept away; for a freak occurrence to change them for ever. With Sweet Belief, Cyann & Ben have managed to encapsulate that experience in nine perfect songs.

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