On The List :: School of Seven Bells @ Mercury Lounge [6.10.10]

School of Seven Bells are wearing it on their skin. Each member of the band features the cover art of their new record, Disconnect From Desire, tattooed prominently on their body; guitarist Ben Curtis is wearing his over his heart. The intoxicating vocalists, Alejandra and Claudia Deheza elect to circumscribe the image on their arms, reflecting a different, nonetheless committed, series of personal choices. A physical commitment, a mixture of pain and soaring beauty, lies indelibly etched in black ink in definition and defense of a new tribalism. School of Seven Bells are exactly this; urban and profane, distant and enormous, ancient and horribly futuristic, a burn of contradictions and desire.

The two Deheza sisters reflect a different, two-roads-diverged-in-a-yellow-wood question. Alejandra, quick, propulsive and bubbly, offered the only "thank you's" and annotations, saying early in the evening, "these are all songs off our new album ... but we have some old ones later." Claudia, delicately behind a keyboard, remained still, providing the intense minor key harmonies for which the band is so deservedly famous. She takes her eyes off the keyboard only to send soul-splitting gazes to the back of the room. The Mercury Lounge, sold-out to capacity, began to move on the fourth song of the evening, the stunning "Babelonia" from the band's forthcoming LP. Alejandra danced on the downbeats, arching her eyebrows to indicate the seriousness of her purpose. Claudia was, well, predictably hard to read.

Though the crowd knew few of the songs, the soaring wall-of-sound approach proved non-negotiable. There were moments so loud, so condensed, so incredibly intricate that you wonder if this band is like Icarus, daring their wax-wings not to melt on the surface of the sun. But perhaps this is darker. On main-set closer, "My Cabal", the band drifted away to some foreign and familiar, a pleasant and unsettling challenge to their audience to join them by the end of the night, burned together in our ears and on our bodies.

Listen :: School of Seven Bells - "Babelonia"

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