ALBUM REVIEW: New Signs of Life by Death Bells

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WRITTEN BY: Vince Barreras

When Dais Records announced the signing of Death Bells during the summer along with a new full length record, it served as a bright spot during the height of the pandemic. New Signs of Life serves as the LA via Australian bands second record and follow up to their perfect Standing at the Edge of the World, which was released on the wonderful Funeral Party Records. This time around the band finds themselves moving in and out of different post punk and new wave tropes as they deliver nine spectacular songs in this realm. The duo of Wil Canning and Remy Vesselis sound tuned into their new sound, and deliver one of not only Dais Records best releases of the year but one of the year’s bests. 

The first two tracks, “Heavenly Bodies” and “Two Thousand and Twenty” begin the record and both are the change of pace the band has taken for this record. Its slower, more exaggerated vocal delivery and instrumentation is more thorough throughout the tracks. The track “Two Thousand and Twenty” in particular is very minimal in its instrumentation. “New Signs of Life” is similar in that the tone is chilled out and slowed, but the track preaches optimism. “New signs of life approaching” as sung throughout the chorus is the main staple that will stay with the listener.

According to an interview the band did with post-punk.com the song is about a time the band moved over to the states and began a new life with new people. “Web of Love” and “The Sun That Shines Forever” bring the energy up as the drums are more upbeat, and present. They are quick post-punk songs that flow nicely and have a bit to it that fans will like. The tracks almost sound like songs that could have been featured on their previous record, but have that nice production of the current iteration of the band. 

“A Different Kind of Happy” brings it down a little bit and has the band slowly singing about love and happiness. There’s even a sweet saxophone solo to conclude the track. “Alison” and “Sacred” are back to back songs that blend well with one another because of their similar thematic themes and instrumentation. The band lets the music do a lot of the talking, but when it comes to their lyrics and message, it is heartfelt and real. The record concludes with “Shot down (Falling) that’s another simple song musically as it’s only about two chords, but hits hard and brings the listener to the finish line for an otherwise great record.

Death Bells did what many bands struggle to do, and that is create a record that is just as good if not better than the original. Their debut record “Standing at the Edge of the World” was a masterpiece when it came out in 2017, and “New Signs of Life” is just as good if not better than that effort. From a production standpoint, this record sounds phenomenal, musically its simple but powerful, and lyrically its optimistic and loving. This is another homerun record for 2020 and also Dais Records. 

For Fans of: Spectres, Death of Lovers, True Body

Tracklisting:

  1. Heavenly Bodies
  2. Two Thousand and Twenty
  3. New Signs of Life
  4. Web of Love
  5. The Sun That Shins Forever
  6. A Different Kind of Happy
  7. Alison
  8. Sacred
  9. Shot Down (Falling)

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