Del Bel have been active in the Southern Ontario indie scene since their 2011 debut Oneiric. Since then, they've garnered critical acclaim and Polaris Prize nominations, and have collaborated with other luminaries of the scene like Bruce Peninsula and Bry Webb.
Describing their sound could be a game of Mad Libs with words like "cinematic," "jazzy," "orchestral" and "trip-hop" — it's difficult to pin down, as Del Bel tend to keep things fairly unconventional and amorphous. Certain elements seem to always bubble to the fore, though: Lisa Conway's lithe voice and Tyler Belluz's dark, moody compositions.
Their third album doesn't disappoint in this respect, and ups the rhythmic heft with punchy beats grounding most of the tracks. "Katie," for example, boasts a particularly funky beat with horn stabs, not to mention a pleasantly surprising guest verse from Toronto rapper Clairmont the Second.
Occasionally, there's a sense of over-crowding — when coupled with Belluz's complex arrangements, those punchy beats can be a bit busy at times, with Conway's lovely voice feeling a bit pushed out — but it's a minor complaint, and it makes the sparse vocal-and-guitar closer, "Maybe There'll Be a Lightness," one of the most welcome moments on the album.
Fans of Timber Timbre, Marissa Nadler and Tasseomancy will appreciate the creepy, theatrical sound of III. If Del Bel are a bit left of that singer-songwriter-ish balance between vocals and music, that just makes them more distinct. (Missed Connection Records)