Saturday, July 14, 2007

Belly - King

Tanya Donelly (who turns 41 today), was on the verge of stardom back in the early nineties. First, as one of the members of Throwing Muses, later as a founding member of the The Breeders, and then finally with her own band Belly. Belly’s debut (Star) contained some pop gems and even grazed the bottom rings of the American top forty, thanks to the infectious alternative hit “Feed The Tree.”
But for me, their follow-up effort, King, remains the band’s crowing achievement and, sadly, their last record before Donelly pulled the plug on the band and went solo.
Supposedly, the band’s harder direction on King was the result of new bassist Gail Greenwood, a regular in Boston’s established punk scene. Her presence was immediately know with the incessant hair tossing during live performances, but her influence on the band’s musical direction is even more apparent throughout Belly’s second release.
Producer Glyn Johns fills the multi-track tape with raucous guitars and dirty hiss; Tanya’s vocals seem like they’re struggling for air. In short, the change in direction is commendable and the sudden shift from dream-pop supporters towards full-on rock outfit is refreshing, particularly when you consider Donelly’s innocent vocals.
The new sound is perfectly captured on the lead-off single “Super-Connected” which, like the album itself, failed to find as wide an audience as Belly’s debut. Disheartened by the critical and fan ambivalence towards King, Donelly disbanded the Belly and set on a solo career that was met with diminishing returns.

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