Technically speaking, the last song on SVIIB is both the first song and the last song. The first few seconds of “This Is Our Time” were released as a teaser months before the album dropped. That makes the tune simultaneously the first song and the last song.
It’s a perfect metaphor for an album always balancing two things at a time; a multitude of unexpected dualities. The two-at-once theme is extended through the whole album even though now as as group, the School of Seven Bells is no longer “two-at-once” in terms of members.
At first, it’s jarring to hear and understand the that kind of juxtaposition. Biting lyrics like “love is a scornful thing …” is mixed with synthetic pop. But then isn’t that what all relationships are? Moments of scorn or spite amongst a general wave of joy? In that way, “Ablaze” and the other genius tunes on SVIIB encapsulate life and all of its intricacies.
Then again, this was never supposed to be comfortable.
SVIIB is both the first release without original member Benjamin Curtis and the final release under the moniker School of Seven Bells. In that way it is simultaneously an album featuring and honoring Ben, yet another duality at work. Benajmin Curtis, who passed away in December 2013 to Lymphoma, wrote much of SVIIB with his collaborator Alejandra Deheza before and during his illness. Deheza took it upon her self and producers to finish the album which was released February 12th 2016.
One of my rules in music is to never have the main lyrics of the chorus be the song name. It’s predictable.
But I’m willing to let this rule pass for SVIIB because not only are the chorus incredible combinations of melodies and sounds, their lush work knocks me over so much that I can’t even get up to defend my rule. The songs crescendo into a fully realized technical masterpiece and an impressive melody. It’s almost more beautiful when the words are not enunciated; The vowels and breaths and harmonies swaying through your eardrums.
If read in Roman Numerals, the title of the newest record, SVIIB, reads as “half of the seven bells.” It’s just another time where the record has two meanings at once.
SVIIB is one of the most important albums of the year, and arguably, already one of the best.