Welcome To The Club!
Okay, so previously I’ve described bands like Fountains Of Wayne, Silver Sun and Junior Achiever as sounding like, or having elements of, Pop/Surf harmony kings The Beach Boys. Nothing wrong with that, except here The Bellfuries don’t so much sound like, or have elements of, The Beach Boys, no, they are the bastard sons of The Beach Boys. Let me explain: Take our bushy-bushy-blonde-surfin’-safari-heroes, take out the surf references, and add some more contemporary words and a splash of obscenities, and you would get The Bellfuries.
This is the Texan band’s long awaited second album after the first one, ‘Just Plain Lonesome’ in 2001, that was predominantly, and what could be considered, a Rockabilly album. Then after a few line up changes the band stuck with their love of 1950’s Pop/Rock to produce a happy and tuneful album in ‘Palmyra’.
First song, ‘Welcome To The Club’ is a good opener as it could easily be done by The Aggrolites with the lyrics, “You never gone be a ballerina // I’m never gonna be one either!” However, it’s the more Beach Boys-esque tracks that do stand out being simple harmonic slices of joy, and almost bordering on a guilty pleasure, like ‘Cheerleader’ that wouldn’t seem out of place on ‘Pet Sounds’, even with the line, “I just wanted to get in her pants…”, and the great, ‘Give It, Give It’ that starts with hand claps and bells before the drum beats kick in, and goes on with the lines, “If we’re both gonna give it // then we’re both gonna get it tonight!”. However the standout track is, ‘Heaven Isn’t Mine Anymore’ that has dripping harmonies, coming across like a barbershop-quartet fronting a rock band, with the twang of the double bass, and the shuffle beat, it’s as sweet as the apple pie, and milkshakes being consumed in the diners that this is playing in…! “I tried to walk the line // but heaven isn’t mine anymore!” sing Joey Simone.
Elsewhere on the album, we have some great mid tempo songs that could easily have been recorded in the 1950’s or 1960’s like ‘Sung By Somebody Lonely’, a song about being a loser in love, whereas in, ‘This Love Ain’t So Bad’ we have a great plodding beat behind lyrics like the opener, “Well okay, so I made a mis-take // I ain’t perfect so give me a goddamn break! // How come, everything with you // It always gets turned into // Some kind of catastrophe!” Then we have heavy guitar reverb in, ‘All My New Friends’. However in other tunes The Bellfuries are quite happy to have a slightly Country influence like in the slight jig of, ‘Death Of An Idol’ or the last song, ‘Into The Arms Of My Baby’ whereby we have Johnny Cash style galloping deep guitar licks.
This is a clichéd breath of fresh air that shows us that whilst this style can sound simple and dated, it is still a very pleasant sound. This 1950’s rock has a habit of always sounding happy whether the band are singing about broken hearts or sexual frustration, and perhaps this is why we sometimes think of the music’s era as being somewhat more innocent than in fact it was. The Bellfuries have here a great album, and whilst old genres are starting to breakthrough into the charts again, there is no reason why if the bandwagon comes to town that they shouldn’t jump on it and go for a lucrative ride! Groovy!