Review: Belleruche – Rollerchain

Tru Thoughts’ Belleruche are now on to their fourth full-length release and they’ve made a concerted effort to shake things up a bit. We all know that they do the DIY electro-soul thing well, so it seems that they wanted to show us they can make a darker, more complex sound work too.

Luckily, they don’t disappoint. The percussion-led songs from 270 Stories and Turntable Soul Stories are replaced by a bass-driven, smokier sound. The production values on Rollerchain are dramatic: it no longer feels like a small band making an album on a budget. Lead single ‘Stormbird’ features layered vocals that makes it feel like you’re watching the band through a haze. It’s a good introduction to the album, which keeps on going with this new formula. It’s worth saying that it works really well live too: the bass never booms and takes over, instead it diffuses through the songs. The contrast between bass and Kathrin de Boer’s vocals is the reason the songs work so well. They compliment each other nicely, with the fragility in her voice contrasting the live and synth bass on songs like ’16 Minutes’ and ‘Wasted Time’.

‘Passenger Side’ is an odd mix of dubstep and scratchy guitars, while ‘Limelight’ uses a similar formula to get a very different result. It’s songs like these that make up the majority of the album, and which have lead to people discussing the change in style.

For me the best songs come in the middle of the album. ‘Cloverleaf’ cleverly mixes the new sound with the home-made vibe of their earlier releases, with an almost acoustic chorus following a glitchy, bleepy verse. This is immediately followed by ‘Under Fire’, another song blends the two sounds nicely.

Based on this album it would be a little tricky to still call them a ‘turntable soul’ outfit, but that’s not meant as a criticism. The extra production never takes the soul out of the songs and the album maintains an intimate feel thanks to Kathrin’s vocals. In some ways it’s a little sad to leave behind the simpler sound of their previous albums, but I guess that’s just evolution. If you’re a long-time fan you’ll certainly have hints of their old sound and plenty to enjoy from Rollerchain, while if this is your first introduction to the band I’d be surprised if you’re left wanting more. It’s a strong addition to their catalogue, as well as that of Tru Thoughts.

If reading this makes you want to go and see them, then you’re in luck! They’re currently touring the UK and they’ve got a host of summer festival dates, including one at Soundwave in Croatia which I’d give an arm and a leg to go to! If that’s a little too ambitious and you’re based in London then the gig at Scala on May 31st might be a little more suitable. Get more info here.

8/10

File next to: Alice Russell, Bonobo, Kylie Auldist

Listen to: Cloverleaf [Buy the album]

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