With the volume of critical love for last year's full-length debut Alpinisms, it was only a matter a time before School of Seven Bells launched a large-scale headlining tour of their own, with former Secret Machine Benjamin Curtis and twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza (of the now-defunct On!Air!Library!) now making the trek from New York to Vancouver's Biltmore Cabaret.
Opening the proceedings were fellow New Yorkers the Depreciation Guild. This band enjoyed some notoriety in 2008 thanks to a free, online-only release of their debut In Her Gentle Jaws, which has now been re-released in clear vinyl form. You can call them "emogaze," for lack of a better term - they borrow liberally from the shoegaze and dream pop play books, but keep one foot solidly in the emo door with songs about heartache and such. The overall effect is inoffensive but not entirely bland, and at times pretty compelling.
School of Seven Bells fill the stage with a presence that shows they've been around the block a time or two. The music can be cold and detached at times, but this iciness creates its own pathos (in the manner of bands like Stereolab or the Knife). And when emotions do rattle through, as on the latter part of "Face to Face on High Places," it makes it more rewarding, like turning a cold shower warm. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Deheza twins' voices harmonize flawlessly, while Curtis plays guitar and operates electronics, creating a sound that is more propulsive than the languidly produced Alpinisms.