Review: Belleruche – 270 Stories
by Yvette Travillian
Perhaps we are living in an era where ‘artist development’ is just some silly idea of the past. No longer are artists really encouraged to actually take their time to build up a fan base and evolve their sound – or in other words, hone their craft. Instead it’s all about putting out a hit NOW – or bust later. Then you have a group like Belleruche, who’ve been quietly on the scene since 2007 developing their unique and infectious technique of ‘Turntable Soul Music’ (also the name of their debut album) – a sound that has constantly progressed through the years and is now quite possibly ready to be internationally recognized.
The UK trio is comprised of vocalist Kathrin deBoer, guitarist Ricky Fabulous and turntablist DJ Modest; last week they released their third studio full length entitled 270 Stories, an album that showcases the bands subtle move into a much edgier direction – while still maintaining their original method of electronic soul. Belleruche has managed to warp their style of music into a delicious blend of funk-rock-soul making it more energetic and diverse then it predecessors. Songs like “3 Amp Fuse” and “Clockwatching” come hard and in your face proving that the group isn’t stuck on just one lo-fi note – which after a while can become quite tiresome.
There is no doubt that 270 Stories was a team effort. Guitarist Ricky Fabulous properly laces the album with some of the most addictive bass lines I’ve heard in a quite a while; and DJ Modest does an exceptionally dope job at showing off his improved knack to mix and scratch at all tempos. The two make a supreme production team which is clearly evident when hearing the songs “Gold Rush” and “Cat in a Dog Suit”.
Kathrin’s voice and lyrics can fairly be called the standout of the album. Her ability to allow her words to float in an almost poetic rap-like flow in songs like “Tired Robot” is unmatchable and she has a scratchy yet clear voice that can pedantically stress each word she beautifully sings. Her layered vocals (listen closely and you will hear the layering I speak of) leaves a nice sound in your ear that will follow you around all day. Take “Shudder and Cry” for instance; it will have you humming Kathrin’s soft hook “It’s a crying shame” hours later. Her opening lyrics in the song “Bobby” precisely describes the thoughts most girls have had at some point towards their significant other. In this case “Bobby” could be “Joe”, “Mike” “Paul” “Shawn” or whomever. Kathrin does a splendid job at penning relatable lyrics that ladies want to sing along with.
The stupid things that come out of your mouth, I should know.
What you’re trying to say, whatever it is you mean.
In your roundabout way I’ll read between the lines to keep up with you.
Hell, I don’t care, I’ll never mind,
you’ve made me smile since you crashed into my life,
took me out of my space and my everyday.
Belleruche – Bobby
For some it may take a second to figure out the path Belleruche was attempting to head down with 270 Stories. But it does get better and more understandable with every listen. It offers a diverse range of tracks fit for multiple playlists on your iPod and the album overall does a solid job at forging a fresh sound. However, there is certainly still room to sharpen their tune. There are a couple of songs that feel as though the group were a little too pressed to sound progressive such as “Churro”. And at times the upbeat tempo they are attempting can feel a little monotonous and may have you missing the more laid-back vibe that gained them initial recognition. This is why the delightfully seductive “Ginger Wine” will sit well with those looking for the feel of Turntable Soul Music and The Express
On a whole, Belleruche is proving that with a little time and development it is still possible for a band to take the great worked they’ve made in the past – use it then flip it into a more evolved sound for the present. It’s an album that will certainly be a treat to see performed live and it is safe to say that the future is wide open for the distinct trio.
270 Stories is now available via Tru Thoughts on iTunes.