Math-Pop?

Artist : Belle Vue

Title : Belle Vue EP

Release : Grab it for a mere £3 at Big Cartel and you can chose which cover colour you would like!

From the opening chords of “Quite Love” – Belle Vue grab your attention and pull you very quickly  into their “Math-Pop” world.

So what do I mean by “Math-Pop”? – well in essence this is indie-pop but with a clear lean towards tight arrangements,  almost “prog-like” riffing in parts, crisp and in your face rhythms, and an off-kilter approach both musically and lyrically which sets the band apart from what might be generically described as modern guitar pop. More of the genesis of this concept will be explained by the band later in the review……..however in summary conventional pop structures have been defenestrated with aplomb  in this very impressive debut EP/mini-album.

They say of themselves:

“Belle Vue are a Manchester based band, consisting fully of students studying music at  Salford University. Belle Vue started as a University “project”, but after receiving praise from Johnny Marr of The Smiths, when he helped arrange our track “I, the King” we decided to go “Nuclear”. Since then Belle Vue have gigged regularly around Manchester playing indie music for people with short attention spans. Belle Vue have just released there self titled mini-album” 

Further probing reveals a little more information…..the band is made up of :  Kyle Mac Connell – Guitar and backing vocals, Tom Favell – Guitar and backing vocals, Chris Pickering – Lead Vocals , Jack Ellis – Bass and Guy Richards on drums. You may recognise Kyle as the bass player from the rather marvellous Doctrines reviewed elsewhere on this blog.

I asked Kyle what influenced the band – the helpful response is “What we were trying to do was play pop music using chords that wouldn’t normally be in pop songs and we truly are influenced by all bands from pop to grind metal”.

Which explains a lot in terms of what you hear on this EP – yes its pop but with that added edge of something slightly different in the formulation of the tunes.

A quick canter through the six tracks plus a bonus reveals a variety of music which keeps the listeners attention:

The opener “Quite Love” sets the agenda with a para-skank muscular rhythmic approach which sets a defiant face against the melodic vocal line.

“Take Your Time” is a gloriously anthemic piece which characteristic Belle Vue – stop/start sections – and a very catchy chorus.

“With Glue” is also instantly catchy with its rolling rhythms and processed vocals morphing into a beautiful tune with some exquisite guitar flavourings.  Chris Pickering’s vocal has just about the right level of Manc. swagger to make it attractive – and the plaintive second half  of the tune, with nicely understated guitar solo, demonstrates this band can do slow as well as quick.

“Ballad of Clyde O’Donahue”  – pushes the stop/start call and response schema into a busy multi-layered piece – impressive rhythmic interaction between Ellis and Richards catches the attention – as does laminal vocal arrangements. Melodically complex and nicely motorik in parts.

“Platform One” – continues in the same vein and is perhaps the most post-hardcore piece on the release. There are comparisons to be drawn here with Well Wisher and bands of that ilk. The guitar work on this is pretty impressive – and the whole piece had me tapping my foot quite ferociously.

“I the King” is stunning – fast and unrelenting – at times I thought I was listening to Tortoise (but with vocals if you see what I mean) and the bonus track on the EP the single “Amber” – is pure pop fun with staccato rhythms, jingly jangly guitars, and a great chorus.

The EP  was recorded and mixed by the band, between the university and  Kyle’s home.

I pressed him on the line “music for people with short attention spans” in the bio and he advised it came from him writing  5- 6 minute long songs and cramming them into a pop song, with lots of stops and starts… “the music has generally been influenced from bands who were part of the post-hardcore scene like At The Drive In and Biffy Clyro but transposing it into pop songs” he said. I’d venture that this band is far superior to those two bands in terms of innovation.

Salford University has been a great locus for emerging bands in the last few years and yet again it has delivered an exciting and different group.

Tunes from the release will be featured on the Salford Music Scene show on May 10th. They haven’t got any gigs planned at the moment but we aim to try and get them on one the nine o’clock alliance shows in the near future for an interview/session.

Highly recommended!

Bloody marvellous in fact……

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