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The Northern Belle’s ‘Bats in the Attic’ Explores Many Musical Styles

The musical group The Northern Belle is known for its nordicana stylings. While I am not very familiar with that genre, I can say that the band’s newest album, ‘Bats in the Attic,’ has a lot to show for multiple musical flairs, both new and familiar. The first song on the album, “Astral Plane,” is a slow song, which I appreciatively saw as a bold move. It ended up setting the mood for the album, which was mostly quiet and gentle. It was a little hard for me to hear the vocals (by Stine Andreassen) as they blended with the music, but her voice was pretty and soft. This song included a smart tactic in switching to a minor key in the bridge, which sounded great.


“Treat Yourself Better” was the second track, and it was quite different from the first. It was fun and kind of funky, and more like a conventional pop song. It was chill but danceable, and it had an abrupt ending – all of which I appreciated. “Merchant Navy Hotel” surprised me next, as it started out with a surf-like sound. While that particular vibe did not stay, it remained in the retro realm, like a modern Electric Light Orchestra song.


The fourth track, “Higher Power,” was more like “Astral Plane.” I kept expecting it to kick in, but it never did. It was a fine song, but somehow too slow for my taste. Conversely, “Stargazer” did kick in. It was similar in tone to “Higher Power,” but it had a fantastic harmony in the second chorus, which I only wish had lasted longer. The vocals in the second chorus stood out as well.


Next, “Fresh Dew Drippin’” was quite a surprise, and a pleasant one. At the beginning, it sounded like something Stewart Copeland might write. It was fun with a cool melody, and it had its own sound – unique to other music and to the rest of the album. About halfway through, the track turned into a full-blown guitar solo with a drumbeat that kept changing time signatures, and a feel of a 1970s chill rock song. I recommend this particular track if you are looking for something new and intriguing in the music world.


To my delight, “Our Own Frequency” brought up the volume of Andreassen’s voice, which stayed for the rest of the album. This song, too, had a chill classic rock feel.


The song “Japanese” had kind of an American folk music sound, which was neat. It was the shortest song on the album – only over a minute – but it was pleasant, and it added to the overall feel. “Hell & Back” was my favorite song on this album, bar none. The sound hooked me instantly. It sounded somewhat like Weezer, but with more conventional rock stylings. It was catchy and had an excellent melody backing the vocals.


“Even Dylan Can’t Make This Right” was a callback to the slower songs on the album. There was much passion in Andreassen’s voice – even more than on the other tracks. This song, too, had an abrupt ending, which I enjoyed hearing. As the finale, “Grow Up” had loud vocals mixed into the music. It featured a bit of violin, which was a lovely surprise. It was a good bookend song since it was slow and chill, like much of the rest of the album.


‘Bats in the Attic’ gives listeners an array of musical styles, but overall, I would classify the album as relaxing. It was a nice listen for someone who wants to unwind, but it also had a few dance-worthy tracks. There was one surprise after another, even among its consistency. I give The Northern Belle a lot of credit for being able to pull off so many different sounds in one album, especially while maintaining a consistent vibe.


 Leah Gallagher


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