Eyes have been on Bellevue Days for a couple of years now, and for good reason. Not only did their The Sun Came Up When We Were Young and Sad Boy EPs paint the Croydon quartet as some of the most in-touch songwriters in rock’s rising crop, but a blend of modern emo’s and rougher Britrock sat them right at the forefront of the UK’s current musical movement stylistically.
Focusing on new EP Rosehill specifically though, perhaps the closest reference point to Bellevue Days’ next step is Deaf Havana. Both sit just off the genre they’re commonly labeled as; both have a stunning knack for picking up melodies steeped in realism, arguably to a greater degree than most of their contemporaries; and both have a frontman followed by black clouds for whom a musical outlet is where their purging crystalises into something truly special. In this case, it’s Alan Smith, haunted by his own demons across these five tracks, whether that’s the lingering memory of a car crash on Black Sheep Baby, or stewing in his own feelings of emptiness and worthlessness on Jack And I and Dead Summer. The conflict is laid on thick throughout, almost overwhelming as he’s reduced to practically a whisper that almost thrives on discomfort; there are moments here that almost feel too personal and too unreadily exposed to even listen to.
That’s spurred on further by the music itself, dropping into low, sparse fragments or tense lines that formulate a heady atmosphere that becomes absolutely ideal. There’s intense melancholy that courses through Black Sheep Baby and Secret Love, and even on Faith with its heavier, spasmodic riffing and the reedier, raspier vocals of guitarist Dan Lukes, it matches the anger and curdling frustration near-perfectly. It’s here that Bellevue Days differentiate themselves the most from more conventional alt-rock acts, in their building on darker, more exposed themes and tones for a sound that’s unconventional, but deeply enrapturing.
That’s why Rosehill as an EP doesn’t really do justice for Bellevue Days’ vision. For the sort of holistic purging they want to achieve, a wider canvas is needed to get the full effect, rather than the limited segment that’s on show here. Still, even in a limited, pared back form, this is excellent work, all the best parts of alt-rock and emo colliding into its very own beast. When the time for a full album does come, Bellevue Days could have something close to game-changer on their hands.
For fans of: Deaf Havana, Black Foxxes, Brand New
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Rosehill’ by Bellevue Days is out now on Kobalt Records.