On School of Seven Bells’ new album, Alejandra Deheza brings the dead back to life. After the duo’s other half, Benjamin Curtis, passed in 2013, Deheza was left with the bones of an album they worked on to the end. A testament to their closeness, the pair’s “SVIIB” serves as a proper memorial and goodbye. As the duo originally planned, Dehaza completed the album with Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who has collaborated with Beck, Nine Inch Nails, and M83. They included as much from Curtis as possible through his demos, keeping his guitar riffs and drum work in songs like “Ablaze” and “Signals.” But the group’s sound has progressed to include ethereal synths, suited to the spiritual subject matter. Deheza’s soothing, breathy voice sits atop this sound as if she’s trying to comfort Curtis about their relationship in songs like “Open Your Eyes” and “On My Heart,” and about his cancer diagnosis in “Confusion.” This album highlights a connection between the two that goes beyond death.
ESSENTIAL “Signals”John Paul Stapleton can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnP_Stapleton