Yes, the title may be a little bit of a pun, but this really is a pop album all over. Simple melodies, (briefly) memorable hooks and enough sonic sunshine to keep a whole garden of flowers happy. Quite a big garden at that might I add. However, there was only one sentence one my mind for pretty much the entire runtime of Elle Belle’s newest release, ‘No Signal‘, which was as follows:
OH GOOD LORD, I’M SO VERY BORED!
OK, so now that you’ve got the general idea of how this review is going to go, I’ll try to keep things brief. ‘No Signal’ is by no means a badly made record, that much is evident. You can feel every ounce of effort that has been crammed into it, by a man who is clearly very passionate about what he is creating. It’s just that personally, it just doesn’t resonate with me.
One of the key elements that lets ‘No Signal’ down is it’s lack of focus. Belle dances around with a lot of pop stylings, but never nails down to a sound that could be defined as his own. Electro and Synth-Pop take their time in the spotlight on the albums opening chapters in particular, with tracks like ‘American Dream‘ and the album’s title track both being filled full of vintage keyboards and drums doused in reverb upon reverb upon reverb, garnished with a little bit of extra reverb. In fact, literally everything sounds like it’s drenched in reverb, not just the drums. Either that or we just listened to our play-throughs in a very large cave and didn’t notice, which wouldn’t be as unusual an occurrence as it may sound (I’m pretty sure that our fellow writer Nick is a secret caveman? – Non-Cave Dwelling Editor).
The latter side of the thirty minute playtime of ‘No Signal’ tries to run down a more Indie sounding path, without ditching the synthesizers and reverb for a moment, but this only manages to mar the proceedings even further. There’s something of a slightly too self undulgent feel to the album overall, as if a little bit too much creative freedom was allowed, with layer upon layer of noise being added until the overall mix of the tracks sounds muddy and overfilled. Sometimes less really is more! Particularly when it came to the finale, ‘Goodnight, Good Luck‘, which was the audible equivalent to a jam packed elevator, in which somebody has farted at quite obnoxious volumes.
To summarise, it’s clear that a lot of love has been put into these nine tracks, but unfortunately, love is only one ingredient that makes up the delicious soup of a great album. Perhaps it’s follow up may see them show a little bit more restraint and a bit more focus.