Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

School Of Seven Bells' debut fulfills the "dream-pop" designation in a few literal ways. The lilting, circular melodies of golden-voiced twins Claudia and Alejandra Deheza deliver the hooks to make it pop, and Ben Curtis, formerly of Secret Machines, sculpts soundscapes heavy on atmospheric textures, drifting drones, and relaxed hip-hop beats. It's useful as chill-before-bedtime music. (Especially since most of the lyrics are about sleeping.) But real dreams can terrify and elate; Alpinisms merely leaves a sense of pleasant mystery. Compositionally, the album covers a lot of ground: There's breezy trip-hop on the standout "Half Asleep," euphoric neo-shoegaze of the M83 variety on "My Cabal," and aerobic electro on "Prince Of Peace," a song that could conceivably show up in some hi-tech kung-fu flick. Still, while impeccably arranged and charmingly sung, much of the album blurs together into a haze of boilerplate ambience with exotic titles ("For Kalaja Mari," "Iamundernodisguise"). And when the trio stretches itself on the interminable 11-minute motorik voyage "Sempiternal/Amaranth," it commits the ultimate sin of recording music that's interesting only with the iTunes visualizer turned on.


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