Hordes of Canadians. If you look on Wikipedia, there is a startlingly large number of bands from the moose-infested regions sandwiched between the Great Lakes and the Arctic. A remarkably high percentage of which you will never have heard of. Are Belle Game likely to change that unfamiliarity? Short answer – doubtful.
Fear Nothing is a fine enough record. Some ethereal vocals from Andrea Lo come over a bit like a more powerful and less random version of Liz Fraser of Cocteau Twins fame. Yet more ethereality in the swirling synths and guitars that drift in and out of focus. In fact, the whole is very much like looking up at a cold mountain as the mist grasps then lets go of the pine trees. It’s chilly stuff, poetic and glacial. Canadian, then.
The problem, if it is as such, is that it’s pretty much been done before. If this was 30 years ago, Belle Game would be headlining a tour of 4AD artists. Nowt completely wrong with that – great label, great roster. It’s not 1987 though.
Perhaps that is unnecessarily harsh. A track like ‘Bring Me‘ does offer a deal of hope. Whilst the anguished wails and reverb are present and correct, an intriguing pitter patter of modern percussion creeps in and teases. It’s great, in fact. The half-speed, dub rhythm that creeps in adds an even more left field and pleasing element. More of this, please, much much more.
There’s not enough of that kind of thing, however. It’s easy to see Belle Game being someone’s favourite. It is periodically powerful, it is sincere, it is emotive and it is very very artful in a simple way. Perhaps they are better than your reviewer gives them credit for? It’s just hard to escape the feeling that they are capable of creating a more pleasing record than this. Something that can be said about most records to be fair.
Fear Nothing would have made a great NME record in the distant past when such nonsense ever meant anything. Like that paper, the pretence of outsider-status can’t disguise the fact that it’s essentially just ‘fine’ and, within its own fishbowl, really quite conservative.