Extremely vivid and colorful. That is a spot-on description of the third EP by Dallas natives Belle Epoque.
My judgment of EPs has always been rather simple. If the shortened album is able to suck you in and leave you wanting oh so much more – perhaps something more like a full-length let’s say – then it is good. It passes the bar. Whatever the bar may be, here in this shining example, it is high.
Okay, re-focus. Disillusions of Man has many great aspects to it. First and foremost, vocalist Kyle Istook absolutely obliterates the mic (in a good way – not in the “beating it up” fashion). His highs are beautiful, which beg to be repeated; not to worry, he does not disappoint. He then pursues a bit of change, piledriving several screeches. This mixture shows his stunning tone can be heightened with aggression, comparable to Gregory Dunn (Moving Mountains).
The experimental/indie/jazzy side is outrageously evident on the fifth track, “Mannequin.” While some would consider it out of place, it still hints at some of the major elements that make the band great. Even though it appears upbeat in comparison to the rest of the EP, the direction of the track is still haunting. Piercing guitars drive throughout, but are masked well by the “happy-face” image that seems to dominate the speakers. In essence, the song fits perfectly in my opinion.
My personal favorite, “Tight Rope Walker” is disturbingly mesmerizing. Istook, as he does throughout, takes over completely. Although the instrumentation behind him does everything right and always at the right times, his role as “the lead” shows just that. Only when you really listen do you get all of its effortless goodness. Istook cleans up most of the track soaring through the rafters, but there are bits and pieces where his raspiness causes the hair on your neck to stand (I don’t really have neck hair, so apparently he caused mine to grow).
My only peeve is the lack of imagination stemming from the lyrical content. Typically with bands such as Belle Epoque, this issue doesn’t seem to come up. Lyricists like Skiba, Filth and Havok (my three favorites, without question) have forced me to really analyze people’s lyrical prowess. Unfortunately in this instance, the substance is par at best. Luckily, the musicianship and vocal ability almost entirely block the perfectly see-through words and their delivery.
As a whole, the experimentation of the record is killer. These kids and their equipment truly play by their own set of rules, that is for damn sure. Having a devastating frontman is some serious icing on the cake. Now that they have mastered the art of creating a “nearly perfect” EP, maybe the label heads should figure it out and cut them a full-length. Or perhaps that is just an opinion of an overly outspoken music reviewer.
For Those Who Like: Evaline‘s Postpartum Modesty – Moving Mountains‘ Waves – The Receiving End of Sirens‘ Between the Heart and the Synapse