I don't think anyone was losing sleep waiting for a Belly reunion. Sure, some of us positively loved Star in 1993 and King in 1995, but it's doubtful that there seemed a need for the band to return, especially considering Tanya Donelly's consistent career as a solo artist.
Still, there's reason to rejoice as the band -- Donelly, Thomas Gorman on guitars, Gail Greenwood on bass, and Chris Gorman on drums -- have reconvened to present us with the surprisingly melodic Dove, due for release next Friday. If the record doesn't quite punch with the intermittent ferocity found on those earlier 2 releases, it at least succeeds remarkably well as a showcase for the talents of Tanya Donelly, one of the most formidable band-leaders from the heyday of alt-rock.
The lyrical "Stars Align" finds Donelly offering up that familiar mixture of vulnerability and bravado found in her best vocal performances, as the band revs up comfortably behind her, while the easy-to-love "Girl" features a hook to die for. Elsewhere, the mid-tempo "Artifact" sounds a tiny bit like something from The Pretenders, while the more expansive "Human Child" takes more risks musically than one might expect to find on a Belly record. Some of this ("Suffer the Fools", "Quicksand") is going to sound very familiar to anyone who's been following Tanya Donelly's solo career, but stuff like "Army of Clay" has a kick that echoes those earlier, great Belly recordings, and suggests that these players are still capable of firing on all cylinders when the material's right.
A record full of of modest successes, Dove sees Belly offer up an album that's not only an extension of the sound of the band's earlier releases, but also a set of many reminders of what a fantastic singer Tanya Donelly is, and how much joy her voice can continue to bring listeners.
More details on Dove via the official Belly website.
[Photo: Uncredited promo picture from the band's website]