Great Heat

Artist: The Bell

Produced by: Badman Recording Co.

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            What I love about working on a website like is the opportunity to listen to new, up-and-coming musicians plying their trade.  This time around, I was given the opportunity to check out Great Heat, a new album from a Swedish band called The Bell which is being released through Badman Recording Co., an independent recording label based in Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California.

            Hailing from Malmo and Stockholm, Sweden, the band consists of three members who provide both instrumentals and vocals: Mathias Strömberg, Nicklas Nilsson and Jan Pettersson.  Great Heat is a follow-up to their 2007 album, Make Some Quiet.  The band’s sound is described as post-punk/melodic pop and they have cited numerous musical influences from Lou Reed to Talking Heads to My Bloody Valentine to The Cure, Depeche Mode, Flaming Lips and more.

            As I listened to Great Heat, and it’s retro ’80s dance/rock/pop music heavily laden with synths, percussion and electric guitars, I was reminded of  the English electronic New Wave band known as The Human League.  In fact, the second track on the album, Holiday, is extremely reminiscent of Don’t You Want Me.  In fact, the opening instrumentals are extremely similar, just set in a different pitch.  Mind you, I was just telling a friend how much I hated that song the other day.  Yet, I couldn’t hate this album.  For some reason, I really enjoyed this New Wave electronic sound that I hadn’t heard in decades.  This is the kind of music you can definitely have a good time to and I could picture it playing at any dance club, perhaps mixed a bit, but retaining that synth/electronic style.

            What’s even more remarkable about this album is that it was recorded by band members who live in different parts of Sweden without the problem of finding a recording studio to meet halfway.  It is a sign of the times that this group was able to record Great Heat via email, electronic file exchange and Skype.  The fact that the album sounds perfectly put together as if the band had actually met in a recording studio to create it is a testimony to the technology they so embrace.

            I actually found myself enjoying the sound performed by the band and wouldn’t have cared if there were any lyrics attached.  The only song I found to be a disappointment music-wise thanks to an annoying beat was You Fell Behind.  Lyric-wise, I found the lyrics to be a tad stunted, but that is the penchant of this genre and so I really have no solid complaint.  The Bell basically sound like Depeche Mode or Talking Heads meet The Human League depending on what track you are listening to. 

            So, in closing, if you are looking for something different, or something that fits your ‘80s retro tastes, you really should check out Great Heat by The Bell, available for digital download on April 12, 2011.


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