Great Heat (Badman)
by Scott Deckman
The Bell are a Sweden-based trio caught in a time warp. Listening to Great Heat, you’re tempted to switch on the TV to catch the latest episode of Family Ties, or opening the newspaper (remember those?) and checking to see what time The Breakfast Club or Sixteen Candles is playing at the local theatre. I mean, you’re literally transported back to 1985, or earlier.
Not a huge fan of cold, bloodless music, even a guitar/bass/drums curmudgeon like me will admit that some of it can be good. And just how good you think the Bell’s Great Heat is will likely say a lot about your tastes. People who detest twee, melodic Depeche Mode-type noise won’t like it, while those who do will have found a new favorite band.
“Holiday” pilfers a synth riff from Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me.” In fact, much of the music on Great Heat seems familiar. So while the Bell loses points for originality, this is pretty palatable synth pop. “The Sound” has a hooky chorus, while “Dope Makes You” features a female counterpoint to Mathias Stromberg’s cyborg drone. Closing things out, the slower, contemplative “23 Seconds” actually shows a little heart.
Sometimes you can’t help but smile at the seriousness of the Bell. Listening to them and it’s like the robots are taking over. Synth pop fans may want to let them.