Black Belles – The Black Belles

January 01, 1970

(Third Man)


Gimmicks, gimmicks, gimmicks. Rock
‘n’ roll has been packed with gimmickry since Screamin’ Jay Hawkins popped out
of a casket on stage, since Alice Cooper “decapitated” himself on stage with a
guillotine or since flames shot from Ace Frehley’s guitar. Gimmicks and stunts
are inevitable part of the genre and The Black Belles are no exception. From
their Emily the Strange wardrobe, death white make-up and “dark” lyrical
content straight from the Goth kids’ handbook, this pet project of Jack White
uses all the clichés in spades on their self-titled release, The Black


Now, I’m not saying the band or
the record is totally hackneyed, contrived and boring. It’s just that ever song
on The Black Belles sounds like something I’ve heard a hundred times
before. The record is heavy with White’s influence, causing nearly every tune
to sound like a White Stripes outtake with the blues references turned down and
the Black Sabbath crunch turned up. Hell, even singer Olivia Jean sounds like
White. It’s sad that everything sounds so derivative because, if the four piece
were left alone and allowed to make the record that I could hear creeping in
the background, The Black Belles would be an awesome rock band.


The drums pound, the guitars have
massive power riff potential, the bass is steady and creepy and the synth work
gives it all a Bauhaus horror movie feel. But as it goes now, it seems like
someone found a band that was made up of four beautiful women who could honestly
rock (“Wishing Well”), amped up their Siouxie and The Banshees fixation, said
“Let’s push the creepy and the kids at Hot Topic will love them.” And they were
right; The Black Belles are tailor made for the crew. It may sound like I’m
totally slagging them here but I am not. There are moments that rock, therefore
making the album worthwhile. “Wishing Well,” “Howl at the Moon,” “Pushing
Daisies” and “The Wrong Door” all are way above average rock tunes but unless
its Halloween or you’re plotting to kill your boyfriend, they don’t stand up to
too many repeated listens. So, after you’ve grown weary of The Black Belles, dig up (sorry ‘bout the pun) some Peter Murphy, Siouxie Sioux, PJ Harvey or
Sabbath and see what dark and creepy is REALLY like.


DOWNLOAD: “Wishing
Well” “Leave you with a Letter” DANNY R. PHILLIPS


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