With the weather shrugging off the clouds and cold of winter and an influx of festival announcements in recent weeks, thoughts have naturally turned towards summer. If you’re looking for a quick shot of sunshine in musical form, you could do a lot worse than listening to this début offering from Ohio’s Belle Histoire.
The indie five-piece serve up a selection of summer-y ditties that are both refreshing in their quality and charming in their articulation. The EP sees a Valentine’s Day release, which is a stroke of marketing genius, as this is an EP of songs about love. I refrain from saying ‘love songs’ for the same reason the release won’t be labelled in this here review as a ‘summer record’; both are as guilty of unfairly pigeonholing artists as each other; to label BH as purveyors of either would do them an injustice. They are better than those labels would suggest. Much better.
If Thrice hadn’t bagsied ‘Major/Minor’ for a title last year, BH could’ve definitely made a strong claim for it. There’s a definite divide in tone in ‘I Can Tell’. The first two tracks are as light-hearted and upbeat as you like, with the remaining two being more sombre. Opener ‘Stay A While’ is a musical smile if ever there was one; care-free and easy to listen to, it evokes a summer-time vibe with its lyrical rays of sunshine and Jane Smith‘s delectable tones.
Her voice is what perhaps makes this EP, with its effortless handling of happy-go-lucky love tales in ‘Stay A While’ and ‘Be Alright’, another easy-going track that’ll put you in the warmest of good moods to help cope with the temperamental February blues, as well as the heartfelt lamenting seen in the less optimistic titles of ‘Misguided’ and ‘Sailing Ships’.
That’s not to take anything away from the music, the simple melodies seen in the first half the EP make way for bigger choruses in the second, especially in ‘Misguided’. The contrast of tender verses and bold choruses gives the music a sense of the turbulence that is sung about. ‘Sailing Ships’ sees the EP out, and it isn’t a million miles away from Thrice in sound and theme – think of ‘The Alchemy Index, Volume IV: Earth’ in particular and you’ll be on the right track. It sways along wonderfully and is a much more contemplative effort than the handclap inducing ‘Stay A While’.
So, a tale of the two sides of love then; except this EP is much more than that: it has cleverly crafted, airy tunes that perk you up one moment, sincere, sorrow-tinged works the next. Belle Histoire are working on their début album at the time of writing, and here’s hoping that they carry on writing songs like these. Smiles all ’round.
Written by Ryan Williams