First things first: like David Bowie’s recent Blackstar (QRO review), it’s hard to review a posthumous release without taking into account the sadness of the passing. School of Seven Bells’ SVIIB was recorded in 2012, just before member Benjamin Curtis was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, from which he died in December of the next year. SVIIB is a swan song, but a beautiful and strong one.
Admittedly, the final album does not start off on the best note – there is nothing wrong with opener “Ablaze”, just that in this day & age its electro-dance push isn’t that original or overwhelming. But then SVIIB comes into full force with the following two tracks, “On My Heart” and “Open Your Eyes”. The former is flat-out strong electro-push, with a nice haunt, while the latter is intimate, touching, beautiful, moving, and any other host of superlatives. The rest of the record manages to range in the electro category, from the airy “Elias” and “Confusion” to the disco-tech-into-bright “Signals” to the overarching synth closer, “This Is Our Time”.
School of Seven Bells may not have had the longevity of Bowie (but who did?), but they closed out on a high note sure to be remembered well & long.