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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Album of the Week: Belly - "Star"

Rating: 7.4/10

Recently, NME published a list of their top 500 albums of all time, which was met with heavy criticism from some and mixed reactions by many. One of the more scrutinized choices was ranking Belly's 1993 record Star at all, though to be fair it was #499. I, for one, have no problem with NME putting this solid effort from the Boston group on such an expansive countdown. It's a good snapshot of early '90's alternative, and one of the most underrated releases of the era.

Star is filled with fast-paced guitar rock gems, including "Angel" and "Dusted." Both have cynical, sinister undertones. Tanya Donelly's dreamy vocals calmly caress each track, in contrast to the apprehensive instrumentals. Her contributions to Belly may be the best work of her career, surpassing her music with Throwing Muses and The Breeders.

The album's two strongest tracks are the jumpy "Gepetto" and the chart-topping "Feed the Tree." I already spoke about the latter in an earlier review, so you can head here for more info on that track. "Gepetto" starts with a delightful guitar riff and rides an equally pleasant drum beat to the chorus. The interplay between the drums & guitars are the most striking component of the song.

Other notable songs off Star include the opening "Someone to Die For," "Sad Dress," and "Slow Dog." "Someone to Die For" follows a curious guitar part as Donnelly asks, "don't you have someone you'd die for?" "Sad Dress" takes a more experimental route, using echoed vocals in the bridge. Lastly, "Slow Dog" leans heavily on its superb guitar riff.

Many consider Belly to be a one-hit wonder, since "Feed the Tree" was the group's only major radio hit. Despite this, Star proves the band had more to them than just one catchy tune. True, the record drags on a little too long at fifteen tracks, but that doesn't take away from the quality of much of the music Belly created for their debut album.

Key Tracks: "Dusted," "Gepetto," "Feed the Tree"

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