Croydon 4-piece Bellevue Days boast an impressively stacked support résumé of As It Is, mewithoutYou, Twin Atlantic and Mallory Knox among others (as well as press support from Kerrang! and Rock Sound) producing what we could broadly term as hard hitting, menacingly brilliant pop punk. They fuse punk-infused screams with abrasive yet powerful harmonies, over pounding drums and slow, dark riffs, and this debut album has been a long time coming.
“[Gentle Flower is] one of the best opening tracks on any album that we’ve ever heard.”
With an opening track as great as Gentle Flower it this made the review to write, stumbling stuck on one of the best opening tracks on any album that we’ve ever heard. As such, it became physically difficult to play any of the other tracks off of the album, given that it meant Gentle Flower wasn’t playing anymore. But, once finally letting it finish, the rest of the eleven-track strong album was revealed in all of its sludge infused, punky ‘pop’ (to an extent) glory.
Each and every song is dangerously good, but none more so than the afore-mentioned Gentle Flower. The album opener, it’s contemplatively unsettling, both in its harsh, discordant instrumentals and it’s morbidly fascinating lyrics. It starts almost as spoken word, over a slow and steady guitar note with some gentle drums… but it builds rapidly. The voices get angrier, almost rebellious in their adherence to the melody, with the harmonies building upon each other and hiding the throat-rupturing screams sheltering beneath the gentle vocals, before fading to a blues-infused, broken chord that leaves the song lingering. It’s a stunner of a song — if you don’t believe us, check it out.
Followed rapidly by second single Shotgun, which comes across like buckshot fired across your ears, in a good way. It’s slow, almost monotonous in its regularity as a beat, but it’s simply good fun. In this, more than any of the other tracks on the record, Jason Wilson’s delicate touch is clear. It sounds like a darker, heavier version of something to pop-punk megastars Don Broco might have produced, and it’s all the better for it.
‘Having the three vocalists… helps the album stand out… each song, then, is desperate and it’s own addictively powerful entity.’
The album also features the lead vocals of the band’s ‘new’ third vocalist — bassist Joe Blackford. The third track Jouska, for instance — meaning a hypothetical conversation you replay over and over again in your head — features him up front. Having the three vocalists, each with their slight differences and variations, helps the album stand out and keeps each song feeling fresh; each song, then, is separate and its own addictively powerful entity.
Some songs rely purely on the speed of its deliveries, and it’s sheer aggression — The Greatest Demise, for example — while ones like latest single S.A.D are a lot more anthemic in its delivery. It’s a song that manages to parallel the masculine mental health stigma that somehow still exists today (I’ve got S.A.D/ But no one ever takes it seriously’) without either falling into the typical trope of clichéd analogies or simple fading into the background.
The pounding ‘Sleep, Repeat, Again…’ seems to embody the idea of fuck-up-ery in society today — or the lack thereof — and the awful, painful truth of heartbreak while the catchy Dashboard Jesus — ‘I don’t expect you to stay,/ ‘Cos I’m a prick on the best of days’ seems to exist as an apology while acting as an analogy for relationships as a whole; the two tracks seem to exist to act as two parts of a whole; neither are apologetic in their candid anger, spewing vitriol from a place of confusion and hurt, and both are effortlessly good.
‘its sheer shadowy rawness makes it difficult to enjoy without delving into that concept yourself.’
We’re back in more familiar ground with Losing Touch and its pop punk vibes, if Bellevue Days can be referred to as a ‘pop-punk band’. It’s rather gentle in its delivery, made up mostly of rhetorical questions boldly emerging into the void, but seems more desperate than any of the other tracks. ‘Are these thoughts my friends… I’m so fucking tired of everything they say’. The album delves into the insecure paranoia of a technological zeitgeist primarily predisposed with duplicitous, public/private lifestyles, and is all the better for it. It only keeps going from there.
Difficult feelings return in lead single Freakin’ Out focussing on depression — the sort that terrifies and stresses in equal measures, that forces you to question each and every thing until you’re left a quivering wreck. Much like listening to the song — its sheer shadowy rawness makes it difficult to enjoy without delving into that concept yourself.
This makes the penultimate song almost ironic. ‘The Joy Of Living’ seems to embody a conversation; with one figure trying to desperately retain the sense of belonging and comfort that a relationship brings, as well as its nostalgic beauty, and the other slowly, almost tearfully breaking their heart. It’s surprisingly poignant in its power. The only thing missing would be a guest female vocalist — though that would undoubtedly take away from some of the track’s edge. It’s a weirdly beautiful track.
‘The mark of a brilliant album: one that makes you feel something, leaving you feeling changed.’
The final ‘song’, ineffably good in its conciseness, acts as a mirror to Gentle Flower. The one minute long Lily follows the same chord progression with spent, almost stunned vocals over screaming sirens (again, nicely mirroring Gentle Flower in terms of its lyrics). It seems to act as an expression of regret and, listening to it, one is struck with just how quickly the album flew by. Much like the band themselves, you simply feel spent; which, surely, is the mark of a brilliant album: one that makes you feel something, leaving you feeling changed.
It might not be for everyone — the general sound and genre of the album is undoubtedly an acquired taste — but for what it is, it’s remarkable and an incredible debut album.
Words: James O’Sullivan @jsully2510
07.02.20 – Cambridge – Blue Moon
08.02.20 – Manchester – Castle Hotel
12.02.20 – Brighton – The Hope & Ruin
13.02.20 – London – Signature Brew Tap Room
14.02.20 – Guildford – The Star Inn
15.02.20 – Cheltenham – Frog & Fiddle