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Bela | Til Summer Ends | review | indie | alternative | rock | Lollipop


Til Summer Ends (Mother West)
by Jamie Kiffel

Called "Surf-Goth" by others, Bela could more specifically be categorized as the symphonic, warm noise of a summer storm over a beach rumbling with young teens' reflections on their own mortality. This is pop for listeners who need a shadowy screen to slightly dim the too-joyful intensity of music like Fountains of Wayne. Bela's brand of lugubrious pop is sweetly darkened with the shadows of minor-key cellos and smooth male vocals that blend into the chords like new Gregorian chants. This could be a tribute album to The Lost Boys soundtrack, or possibly some of Eddie Munster's summer favorites.

Noteworthy teen Goth moments include "For Those in Need," the chorus to which, ("It's been so long since I had fun") sounds like a kid who's spent years locked inside a closet. Pop syncopation, sad symphonies, and a weird hissing sound like insects swarming over the chorus in "Heaven's Slow" all add to the moody -- yet not suicidal -- feeling. The music draws out slow, sad images like water swirling down a drain, subtly evoking the sepia side of things without thrashing blood and black paint at the speakers. Applause is due for "Summer Bells," a track noting the deepest, darkest, possibly most Goth time of year for any teenybopper -- the beginning of the school year. With each pounding bell, I can easily picture ominous "Back to School" posters rising, reminding teens of dark, dank calculus and cafeteria days to come. This isn't rotting-flesh Goth; it's spoiling mystery-meat Goth. A new generation peers through the classroom door and sees darkness. It may only be the slide projector, but it's training for the inky blackness of life beyond the beach.

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