The Uplifting Bell Ends


Aussies The Uplifting Bell Ends have found their through line in a progression from mid-‘60s-scuffed garage on into late ’60 psych-folk concept capers. Now, they draw a close on their Super Giant series with a trip through the early ‘70s American West, folding a bit of Americana and country rock to the sound, but still retaining their winking pop spirit. The last entry in the run just might be their best, with a thicker sound that brings out the breezy charms of James French’s songwriting. While many of their US counterparts have touched down in the country psych canyon with a dedication to form, The Bell Ends, like their UK counterparts in The Hanging Stars, find a way to lace in the influences while blending them with homegrown strains along the way. Where the Stars skew towards towering aughts psych, The Uplifting Bell Ends twang out jangled Aussie indie, throwing fuzz riffs and droll humor between the fiddle bars.

The heart of The Bell Ends remains a pop heartbeat that pushes them forward, and it beats stronger than ever on Super Giant IV. In ditching many their grittier aesthetics, the album boasts some of the bands most immediate hooks, shined to a sun-baked gloss. There were always nuggets of pop hidden in their past records, especially the folk-swept III, but here they’re let out into the open air. The band’s eclectic nature never lets them sit idle in one idea, though, and a series of string-laden instrumentals and even a fingerpicked closer cradle the country-pop songs and keep this in line with a few of the themes that have cropped up in the Super Giant canon. They soar on the opener, a sun-baked gem that winds jangles round open road leads. They hit Stones in Exile vibes on “Dear Friend,” and flirt with tenderness on the sweeping “That Old Familiar Feeling.” While the band isn’t a household name on this side of the world, Super Giant IV aims to change that. The series may be coming to a close, but the last entry sends them off in style.

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