The Belle Game are a Vancouver based quintet who, with their debut full length release Ritual Tradition Habit, have been generating lots of positive buzz. Having previously released two separate EP’s over the past couple of years and with some pretty extensive touring opening up for the likes of Gotye and Hey Ocean!, it would seem fitting that the ‘dark chamber pop’ collective come out with a full, dignified release with all these steam behind them.
To start, Ritual Tradition Habit is a very captivating, wondrous, shadow-filled orchestral romp that is bound to impress. The Belle Game know exactly what their sound is and it seems that they have a strong sense of identity and direction, and with it, they expand, grow, experiment, and build upon something special. Creating space, ambience, and art-rock experimentation without teasing patience or instigating bore, as well as implementing violins and trumpets quite effectively without seeming at all forced, this group knows how to craft songs that carry with them a strong sense of artistic integrity while also being very catchy and leave you wanting more.
The Belle Game effortlessly create very mystical and sensually dark imagery with not only their instruments, but Andrea Lo’s vocals as well help paint the portrait of a modern twist entangled in a nostalgic frame. There is a whispery air to Lo’s vocals, a certain static, that adds just that much more texture and depth to the group’s already intensely layered sound and composition. The attention to detail is immaculate and they strive to create a visceral experience when listening; The Belle Game create a space around you through their album and with every listen, never quite stop to continually add upon that space as you are bound to catch something new that you had not previously caught upon. In the case of Ritual Tradition Habit, it is the small things that count.
Opening up the delicate and intricate ‘Ritual’, you are softly lowered into the dark, shadowy depths that make up Ritual Tradition Habit. Filled with lumbering, engrossing violins and bass that act as welcoming, yet somewhat intimidating guides as well as Lo showing off her impressive vocal range on ‘Ritual’, it is hard to really grasp what exactly you’re in for. Following up, ‘River’, showcases the group’s ability to really craft not only a triumphantly contagious song, but one filled with so many textures; trumpets praise and sing, a certain organ-like solo flourishes, and electronic voice manipulations all dance together like you have never heard before. From there, the endearing emotion and pleasantry does not cease and once ‘Habit’ fades off, you will not pause to play the whole album from the start again.
Although the album itself may at times feel a little in-concise or without a clear, backbone concept, the music itself is wonderfully composed and its small faults are easy to forgive. In all, The Belle Game are looking up to become a very promising group and Ritual Tradition Habit is just their first step.