Howling Bells - Slowburn (Single Review)

Howling Bells – Slowburn (Single Review)

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Indie rockers, Howling Bells, have confirmed a UK headline tour to coincide with the release of their fourth album, Heartstrings, on 2nd June.

Now London-based, the band actually formed on the other side of the globe, in Sydney, back in 1999, under the name Waikiki. Before moving to the UK, they changed their name to Howling Bells to better suit their new indie rock sound; a change catalysed by frontwoman Juanita Stein and guitarist brother Joel Stein seeing Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Also influenced by The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, Howling Bells are now known for their seemingly opposing mix of doom-and-gloom and country-and-rock.

Dreaming big, the band sent demos of their new music to British producer Ken Nelson (Coldplay, Gomez), considering him to be an unattainable option for the role. But he responded favourably, prompting the band’s move to London. For almost a year they lived together in one room of a house, taking on temporary jobs, while they waited for Nelson to finish work on Coldplay’s ‘X&Y’ album.

Their single, Slowburn, taken from the new album, is due for release on 7th April; a release that will be celebrated with a live show at Oslo in London on the same date. Their tour kicks off in Guildford at the end of May.

Howling Bells approached Heartstrings in a totally different way to their other records; they made the recording of it an intense experience; laying down a track each day for 11 days. Juanita said “Having a deadline means you’re forced to make crucial artistic decisions in a very short time. You don’t have the luxury of overthinking. I feel this process shaped the album. As a result, you become incredibly connected to the musical spirit of the band. We loved every second of it.”

Upbeat, but moodily edgy, the track is packed full of energetic personality that makes it the perfect candidate for a TV advert soundtrack. It’s one of those songs that, on first listen, sounds oddly familiar – like it’s been part of your life for years. Perhaps it’s just inevitable that it will be.

The track is epically multi-layered, giving it a dramatic, cinematic feel, and Juanita’s laid-back vocals croon with just enough husky edge to hit the current market bang-on. And despite critics’ insistence of the band’s gothic undertones, the track is truly positive and encouraging in its message, with Juanita explaining; “I feel it perfectly captures the immense conviction and passion the band have. The song explores the idea that some of us effortlessly glide to the surface, whilst others simmer away quietly.”