Cyann & Ben Sweet Beliefs

[Ever; 2007]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: space-rock, drone, dream-pop
Others: Espers, Pink Floyd, Explosions in the Sky

I’ll admit that I hadn’t checked back in with Parisians Cyann & Ben since being unable to get into their pleasant-but-plodding 2004 release Spring. I’m a fan of stoner- and space-rock, but for whatever reason, Spring’s ethereal crescendos simply didn’t pack the punch I’d been hoping for. I skipped their follow-up album, Happy Like an Autumn Tree, but was curious to hear how the group has developed in the time between Spring and their new record, Sweet Beliefs.

The first thing that struck me about Sweet Beliefs is the increased volume and confidence of the players, both vocally and instrumentally. Less lilting and more brooding than the band’s first record, Sweet Beliefs adds the Pink Floyd-ish guitar catharses that I’d found wanting on Spring. Where Cyann & Ben had relied upon extended passages of arpeggios, Sweet Beliefs kicks off with “Words”, a mission statement that closes with as rock 'n' roll an ending as they have ever put together. Although they follow it up with two more sedate tunes, Cyann’s improved singing and more confident musicianship carries the title track in Explosions In The Sky territory. “Guilty” is a stab at OK Computer-era Radiohead, but a good one at that. It’s album closer “Sparks of Love” that best recaptures the bombastic glory of “Words,” solidly establishing the progress Cyann & Ben have made over the last couple of years. Sweet Beliefs illustrates the output of a band that understand their strengths and are beginning to play on the dynamic they need to stake out a place of interest among their contemporaries. Lay on that distortion pedal!

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