This Beliefs article was written by Ben Kendall, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse.
Once upon a time in the mid-to-late 1980’s, a unique musical sound was brilliantly devised by pumping up the volume, distortion and feedback levels of the ol’ electric guitar to create a palette of blurry atmospheric noise, which was knighted the name ‘shoegazing’. The name was created due to the prolonged gazes of the guitarists down at their extensive amount of effects pedals below them, with which this chaotic but cool sound had its origins, or maybe it was because they were always contemplating life’s big questions? Like ‘can my shoes get any more fabulous?’
Fast forward to present day, and these big questions are still provoking the thoughts of Josh Korody and Jesse Crowe, the duo of Toronto-based band Beliefs. Formed in 2010, Beliefs have revisited the shoegazing palette and mixed in their own colours, with a single release ‘Untitled’ and a full length self-titled album to form a modern distinctive sound whilst continuing the shoegaze legacy.
‘Leaper’ is Belief’s second full length release, radiating with wailing guitars, soft vocals and heavy toying with feedback. Classic with shoegazing, the sound’s primary emphasis is on the atmosphere of layered ‘wall of sound’ guitar drones, exploring both loud, fuzzy noise and dreamy, resonating ambience. However, there is a prominent focus on songwriting, which is often looked past in a lot of shoegaze bands, but Beliefs have a clear understanding of its importance, which makes this album greatly excel over its peers.
Alongside the noise, the reverb and the feedback, Beliefs shine through with precisely composed melodies and chord progressions, showing catchy pop sensibilities in their songwriting, which makes for a neat, exciting listen. In tracks such as ‘1992’ and ‘Colour Of Your Name’, the spotlight is on the luscious vocal melodies, accompanied by guitar riffs complimenting them. Lyrics such as, “I don’t try to trust the answer, I don’t trust my whole disaster” from ‘1992’, are more interesting and thought-provoking than other shoegaze bands who openly treat lyrical content with little importance, which provides a fresher perspective.
The faster, energetic tracks on the album stand out the most, and live up to the album name by releasing exhilarating thrills upon listening. The album opener ‘Tidal Wave’ has overdriven guitars in shotgun, whilst thumping drums and crashing cymbals take the wheel, and features gorgeous feedback manipulating nearer the end. The title track ‘Leaper’ is the one to drift off to the most, containing whining droned guitars and echoed chords, with the bass guitar leading the melody. ‘Leave With You’ throws down the most drumming work of the album, hammering bass drum and tom-toms with equally hammered guitar chords thrusting with intensity.
‘Leaper’ is a musically well-arranged album; however the tracks do feel very slightly incomplete, and that they’re ‘missing’ a main part or two to make them more memorable, and to allow them to reach their full potential in being not just good songs, but being great and even outstanding. Nevertheless this doesn’t affect the overall quality of the album. The production of the album also feels like it had more potential, mainly due to the lack of frequency range. The album could’ve benefited from more bass and treble ends to give it that ‘full’, bigger sound for an even more exciting and intimate listen.
As the ringing haze of guitars and soaring vocals fade out, Beliefs successfully complete ‘Leaper’s’ final statement as a powerhouse in the modern world of shoegazing. Noise-abusing and dream-catching bands of today and tomorrow can only treat ‘Leaper’ as a lecture and take notes, as ‘Leaper’ has made its mark as a force to be reckoned with, (or to ponder alongside with…)