Belaire – Resonating Symphony

This time of year is pure madness around the OVRLD offices. Or maybe just for me. I get very excited for year-end lists, and I’m excitedly culling through the year’s Austin releases for important ones that we may have missed up to this point, but that need to be included on our year-end lists. There continues to be a shockingly high amount of quality music in this city, and our tiny little website has been able to review only a fraction of it. Yet we power on ahead – trying to get you the scoop on the best this city has to offer. To that end, today we’re going to talk about Belaire.

Earlier this year, I was pointed in the direction of Belaire by former (and hopefully future) OVRLD contributor, Geoff. It took until this end-of-year round-up for me to dive into them, and I still feel like there’s so much further I could go. A few simple passes through Resonating Symphony aren’t enough to do it justice when the members of the band bring so many talents to the table.

Led by Cari Palazzolo (yay for awesome Italians!), the group offers a sound that is at times a happier Camera Obscura and at others a less cutesy Regina Spektor. The album kicks off with the spectacular, frenetic “This Could Take All Night.” It’s a classic indie-pop single that introduces the kind of epic arrangement and production that will fill up much of the rest of the album. Sadly, Belaire lose a bit of their momentum with the next two tracks. “Technicolor Beaches” tries for the lazy California sound (like a slow Best Coast) but just plods and drags, and “Lightning on the Beach” offers the first lead vocal turn from Jason Chronis in an adequate song (with a couple of crappy sections) that ultimately fails to deliver the charisma that Palazzolo displays in the opening track.

From then on, however, the album never falters again. “A Strange & Distant Land” lets Chronis shine on a much, much better song that embodies the warmth the band is capable of in its melodies and arrangements. “Running Wild” is built around a bouncy sing-song melody, while “I’ll Be Gone” shows the band works just as well with slower material. The title track, with its overlapping vocal lines, creates such a dark but inviting atmosphere that it’s a shock that it’s also the most original song on the record. It’s fantastic, but the band refused to make a record full of songs that sound just like it.

Resonating Symphony is a fantastic offering from some of Austin’s hardest-working musicians. The three members of Belaire have spent so much time in other bands over the last several years that this follow-up to their debut took five years to finish. It is well worth the wait – as sophisticated and enchanting an indie-pop record as you’ll find. Buy it through the record label, Indierect.

– Carter