Eight years on from their debut, the Aussie band return to form
It’s been eight years since Howling Bells’ excellent self-titled debut album. On it, the Australian fourpiece fused Nick Cave’s doomed Gothicism and the neo-noir of David Lynch’s ‘Lost Highway’. By the time second album ‘Radio Wars’ followed in 2009, the trick had worn thin, while 2011’s dismal ‘The Loudest Engine’ found them out of ideas. A three-year break finds the Australians re-energised on ‘Heartstrings’, recorded in London in just 11 days. Opener ‘Paris’ is a stadium-ready ode led by Juanita Stein’s suitably elegant vocal, but ‘Original Sin’ is the album’s true standout; delicate one minute, bruising the next thanks to Joel Stein cranking up his guitar during the choruses. Howling Bells aren’t back to their best, but they’re within touching distance.