Belle Mare has been on our radar for quite awhile now. We first covered them earlier this summer when they were sharing singles leading to the release of Heaven Forget, which is the group’s debut full-length release. After hearing “How Much Longer,” I immediately went back and listened to the Brooklyn group’s 2013 EP, The Boat Of The Fragile Mind. I was hooked and looked forward to today when I could review Belle Mare’s first album. I am happy to tell you that their first foray into full-length territory is a strong and a great listen for anyone interested in synth pop or dream pop.
While Amelia Bushell and Thomas Servidone are the songwriting force behind the band, adding musicians Tara Rook, Gary Atturio, and Rob Walbourne to the process gives Heaven Forget a much more fleshed-out and satisfying musical depth than the band’s earlier work. Most songs on the album have at least a basis in some rock and pop instrumental work before getting creative with the synths. A perfect example of this is the album’s second track, “Cicada.” The track begins minimally, with Bushell’s voice over sparse guitars before adding in a synth that makes a sound like you imagine a plane taking off would. Halfway through, the song grinds to a halt, leading into a two-and-a-half-minute instrumental section that builds wonderfully into a boisterous rock-like climax—all guitar riffs and beating drums.
Speaking of Bushell’s voice… it’s spectacular. She has a very smooth, sliding delivery that fits well with the dreamy nature of the album. The production and sound mixing also helps a lot here. There are times where it seems Bushell is singing underneath the instrumental; it not only gives her vocals an ethereal quality that works beautifully, but it really makes you focus in on the top notch instrumental work. The best example of this is summer single “Feel You Against My Heart.” It’s the funkiest track on the album, with a rich, vibrant synth soundscape. Bushell sounds absolutely phenomenal on the track, the hook of “feel you against my heart” delivered perfectly.
Heaven Forgets is emotionally complex as well. It’s often reflective and subdued, pondering the intricacies and the energy of just living. The slow, expansive “Dark Of My Evening” gives plenty of space for Bushell to explore these ideas, as does album closer “In The Fall,” which is an absolute tearjerker of a sign-off. Sometimes this reflection is centered in the past, as on “Ghostly” when Bushell elaborates on when “[she] had a dream that [she] was young.” Growing up isn’t always easy and it isn’t always fun, and Belle Mare harness this fact into an album that will have you looking back on your life choices. That’s not to say this album is miserable either; reflection doesn’t have to be painful. As mentioned above, parts of this album are fun and groovy as hell. And even when the album drifts into sadness and regret, the music is beautiful enough to bring a smile to the listener’s face.
Heaven Forget is an album that is as emotionally deep and nuanced as it is musically diverse, and Belle Mare handle both areas spectacularly, especially considering this is their full-length debut. The songwriting is superb, the expansion of the group has greatly benefited the sound, and the mixing is great. Now is the time to get on board the Belle Mare hype train; if Heaven Forget is any indication, it’s about to get pretty crowded.