Since their formation in Sydney back in 2015, Death Bells — Will Canning (vocals) and Remy Veselis (guitar) — have cemented a sound and approach that blurs the lines of post-punk and garage rock, centered around Canning’s baritone and Veselis’ wiry, reverb-drenched guitar lines. The duo quickly became a maintain in the alternative/underground/indie scene both nationally and internationally.
Naturally, as the duo have grown up and matured into early adulthood, the band has morphed and transformed through the releases of their debut EP, their full-length debut and a seven-inch through Funeral Party Records and a 2019 single through Metropolitan Indian.
The duo relocated to Los Angeles in 2018, where the current iteration of the band has blossomed: They signed to Dais Records, who released their sophomore album 2020’s New Signs of Life, an effort that saw them embracing their diverse tastes to craft expansive, hook-driven songs. As a response to pandemic-related quarantines and lockdowns, the duo secluded themselves at Bombay Beach last year, to record a live session that featured five tracks off New Songs of Life titled Live from Bombay.
Between Here & There, the Aussie-born, Los Angeles-based outfit’s third album was released yesterday through Dais Records. Recorded with Colin Knight at Paradise Studios, the nine-song album, which sees the duo adopting a collaborative approach features an experienced cast of collaborators on keys, strings, piano and backing vocals, not only represents the pair’s continued growth as artists and people; but also is inspired by the vastness, messiness and oddness of their adopted home. While featuring lyrics that the duo consider “narrative, but not autobiographical,” the album’s material ebbs and flows from harrowing to hopeful — and are born of intrigue, intimacy and a sense of “looking outward,” according to the band.
Earlier this year, I wrote about “Hysteria,” the album’s fourth single. Continuing a run of material that bristles with urgency and immediacy, the song is rooted in the simultaneously personal and universal: the search for meaning in a seemingly meaningless, mad world — and the desire to pack up and leave everything behind.
“’Hysteria’ was one of the last songs we wrote as we were putting together the new album,” the duo explain. “It was one of those moments where the tune just figured itself out. It feels urgent, immediate and honest, and we’re very proud of it.”
“Lifespring” is a brooding and hypnotic bit of post punk featuring Vaselis’ wiry bursts of guitar, thumping four-on-the-floor, glistening synths and a relentless motorik groove paired with a rousingly anthemic chorus. Yes, “Lifespring” is decidedly inspired by — and indebted to — the late 70s and early 80s while bristling with a forceful immediacy as it describes our bleak moment with an uncanny specificity.
“We initially wrote Lifespring at a friend’s studio, before the last record was even an idea,” Will Canning explains. “I thought I had lost the stems, but discovered them recently on a USB that had been sitting in my jacket pocket for the last few years, so we were able to finally finish the song. The lyrical inspiration for Lifespring came from reading about a fairly spurious organization of the same name that were around until the mid-90s. Musically, it feels very different from anything we’ve done before; sleazier, groovier.”
The accompanying video follows a motorcyclist on a dirt road. The camera gently pulls out to give the viewer a gorgeous, cinematic view of the motorcyclist’s surroundings — before they meet up with a truck full of people.