Belly – Dove (Album Review)

Out of Newport, Rhode Island, Belly is one of the much missed bands that climbed the summit of the Alternative Rock mountain during the 1990s. Come together in 1991, despite its promising trajectory, the American band got to release only two critically acclaimed and relatively successful albums, 1993’s Star (“Feed the Tree”) and 1995’s King (“Seal My Fate”). Sadly, in 1996, Belly disbanded. Soon after, its leader—Vocalist/Guitarist Tanya Donelly—embarked on a solo career, mustering four albums under her name.

Now, 22 years after their breakup, Donnelly and the rest of Belly—Thomas Gorman (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Gail Greenwood (bass, vocals), and Chris Gorman (drums)—are back with what they have described as the third part of the trilogy of albums that they originally intended to accomplish back in their heyday. Well, it is never too late! With how the album sounds, it was worth the wait.

Out on Friday, May 4, 2018, Belly’s new record, titled Dove, is a departure from the almost exclusively Alternative Rock sound of its golden days. Worry not, the majority of the songs still bear the band’s penchant for saccharine melodies and subtly progressive structural tendencies. The current sound simply became broader, opening up to brighter horizons—it resonates so much better.

Dove opens with the cool mid-tempo of “Mine,” which fuses well Donnelly’s Twee coos with the familiar, subtle fuzz of the guitars. This is followed by the slow Shoegaze buildup of “Shiny One.” Then there is the crisp guitar plucks, galloping groove, and contemplative croon of “Human Child,” which features a short New Age/Gothic-inspired interlude that may recall the initiated of the icy sugar-cube sweetness of Cocteau Twins (“Iceblink Luck”), somber vocal swing of Dead Can Dance (“Sanvean”), and sinister chimes of Sugar Hiccup (“Bells & My Shadow”).

The triumvirate of “Faceless,” “Suffer the Fools,” and “Girl” find Belly in a slow Dreampop/Pastoral Folk predisposition, most likely drawing inspiration from some of Donnelly’s acoustic-flavored solo works. The ensuing starry stompers “Army of Clay” and “Stars Align” then transport the listener to the glorious ’90s heyday of Belly, reverberating with their slightly ominous melodies, dancey beats, and toe-tapping rhythms. “Quicksand” is another slow excursion – soulful, heartfelt, and hopeful – pulling the senses of the listener deeper into submission.

“Artifact” is definitely a change of pace and style, in which Donnelly, Greenwood, and the two Gormans seem to channel their inner Country roots. Finally, they lace up the final installment to their now accomplished trilogy with the acoustic guitar minimalist Pop of “Heartstrings” – a perfect Indie Pop lullaby to close a colorful return to the mountain that Belly once trekked and are quite ready to explore again.

While it inevitably still carries the melodic genes of Belly, Dove may be regarded as an updated, expansive version of the band. The members’ 22 years’ worth of new experiences and expedition into other musical landscapes have certainly enriched their collective sonic creativity, adding a new facet to the musical identity of the beloved American band. CrypticRock gives Dove 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase Dove:

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