Bel Riose Moving Targets

In the nearly two decades since Surfer Rosa came out, the soft-loud dynamic has proved extremely durable. No matter how many times the quiet verse/loud chorus formula is trotted out by untalented, derivative, bottom-feeding alt-rock bands, it still somehow retains the potential for power. Consider Vancouver’s Bel Riose a marginal offender of the little aesthetic that could. On Moving Targets, the two-piece (brothers Ryan and Geof Dolejsi) typically hum and pulse through verses and thrash noisily during choruses. And those choruses are the problem for Bel Riose. The vocals awkwardly squeak, scream and wail while strings crunch into a messy, semi-metallic grind. They’re full-band hissyfits, and they fit in next to the melodic, driving verses as smoothly as Nick Nolte at a MADD meeting. As a result, Bel Riose wind up sounding like many of the guitar-heavy one-hit wonders who littered the wasteland of ’90s alt-rock. And it’s a shame, because when Bel Riose show some restraint, they prove capable of catchy pop tunes. The title track is a short burst of guitar pop that only threatens to devolve into a noisy payoff. It could be dropped seamlessly into the catalogue of Swedish indie poppers Blithe, a band with an eerie vocal similarity to Bel Riose, who used noise much more sparingly and effectively. "Three Feet Away” is another highlight, and an easygoing jaunt anchored by bittersweet lyrics and a pleasant groove. That groove is present in pieces throughout Moving Targets, though typically it’s soiled by the inevitable chorus clusterfuck. Until Bel Riose can master restraint or rock out more convincingly, their flashes of melody will only be frustrating. (Team Love)