School of Seven Bells (often stylized as SVIIB) is an American indie rock band from New York City, formed in 2007. It originally consisted of Alejandra Deheza (vocals, guitar), her sister Claudia Deheza (keyboards, vocals) and Benjamin Curtis (guitar, synthesizers, vocals). Currently, Alejandra Deheza is the only member of the band; Claudia Deheza left the group in 2010, and Curtis died of lymphoma in 2013. (source Wikipedia).
Today, the final School of Seven Bells album is officially released. Simply titled, SVIIB, this was a record in the works right before Benjamin Curtis died leaving Alejandra Deheza to complete it on her own. It was something very emotional, but passionate for her complete. She insisted the help of other musicians to make it happen and as it turns out, is one of their strongest releases.
Deheza and Curtis were fellow musicians before becoming romantically involved. During their almost decade together, they release 3 official full length albums and numerous E.P.’s. This 9 track album, SVIIB, marks their 4th major studio release. Deheza the only remaining band member.
Jason Heller from NPR states, “That tumultuous bundle of emotion echoes throughout SVIIB. Deheza was left to complete much of the album alone, and loneliness permeates every moment — even the disc’s most dance-friendly track, “Signals,” an electro workout that shivers from a chilly distance. “On My Heart” is a heartsick tug-of-war summed up in the lines, “There was a you before me / There was a me before you.” Love, like the act of making music together, is never simple; Deheza and Curtis wrap up that complexity in immaculate, hook-filled bursts like “Awake,” with its sleek harmonies and retro-Eurythmics pulse.”
I had the chance to catch School of Seven Bells live in Chicago when they played one last show at Lincoln Hall. It was a memorable night in April of 2012. They played for about an hour and a half in a dimly lit stage show to a sold out group of lucky fans. They played tracks off their entire back catalog as well as the new album, Ghostory. Click here for photos from that performance which also includes a set list for that night.
One reviewer that night had this to say about, what would sadly become the final show, SVIIB in Chicago. School of Seven Bells bring a blend of pop, dance and ambient and mix in high concept song writing. There is even something a little FUNKY in there somewhere (which is amazing for a band with no live bassist). To make things even better they are a fantastic live band. There are a lot of bands out there these days who mix dance music with pop or rock or calypso or whatever. That is all well and good but, very often, there are seems and glitches, both figuratively and literally, in the music. School of Seven Bells’ music and performance is seemless and glitchless. They do not sound like they are trying to be anything. They just are something.
SVIIV is available today from Amazon, iTunes or their website direct as well as streaming on NPR. I’ve already listened to the streaming version, but now I’m heading out to spend my lunch at the local record store to buy my vinyl copy. Thank you Alejandra for completing this. I know it’s going to make so many happy. I hope it was therapeutic for you and you find happiness in it as well.
For photos of rare performance of School of Seven Bells in Chicago, click here
For a video from the final Lincoln Hall 2012 performance in Chicago, click here