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Bellrays | In the Light of the Sun | review | rock | Lollipop

The Bellrays

In the Light of the Sun (In Music We Trust)
by Brian Varney

If you're familiar with the two previous Bellrays full-lengths (Let It Blast and Grand Fury), prepare yourself for a minor shock before you pop this 'un in. In the Light of the Sun is not, as I'd originally thought, the third Bellrays album - rather, it's a reissue (first time on CD) of the band's self-released, cassette-only debut full-length from 1992.
The reason for the surprise will no doubt become apparent when you get tired of reading this and simply pop the damn thing in. In place of the gloriously raucous lo-fi soul-punk of Let it Blast and/or Grand Fury, In the Light of the Sun is a mannered, almost mellow classic R&B sound. Front woman/hellhound Lisa Kekaula lets forth nary a scream, there's not a single distorted guitar to be found, and there are horns aplenty. In the Light of the Sun, simply put, is an uptown R&B album. And a damn good one, too.

Indeed, once you get over the original shocking change in sound, there is very little to dislike here. Kekaula's voice is a force of nature, even though her vocals here are smoother than the Tina Turner shrieking she specializes in on the later albums, and the rest of the band prove surprisingly adept R&B players for a bunch of white boys. Though this may seem a loss, where there is loss there is frequently a gain as well. The garagey squall is gone, but in its place is genuine soul. Put opener "Crazy Water" on a Stax/Motown/Atlantic classic soul mix CD and I'll betcha no one picks up that it's from the '90s.

That sorta shit is like mother's milk for me, so it's pretty much a no-brainer that I'd like this, but if you're banking on the muffly, fuzzed-out punk whiplash you got the first time you cranked Let It Blast, this might not be your thing. Of course, if you don't like R&B in any way, shape, or form, you probably wouldn't be reading this, so I suppose it's OK to assume that everyone still here is "down." This may not impress your hipster rocker friends, but it'll sure as shit be a smash at your next house party. Toss this in the CD changer with The Dirtbombs' Ultraglide in Black and get ready to GET DOWN!
(15213 SE Bevington Ave. Portland, OR 97267)

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