Bella Clava – Medicine for Melancholy
3 / 5
Canadians do rock. These particular Canadians especially. And on Bella Clava’s second full-length hard rocker, the quartet fight melancholy with melancholic tracks: the self-explanatory “Broken Spirit” and the terribly sunshiney “Bitter Jaded and Dumb,” to name a couple. Toronto’s best kept secret here, however, do not present their best performances; they don’t strike that particular spark, don’t evince that faith in their songs that they certainly should. They come off perhaps a bit too melancholy, even, slogging at times. We’re going to single out lead singer Caitlin Dacey as the main culprit here, not singing to 11 (hitting maybe seven, eight) as Medicine needs her strong direction to pull us through. She mostly gets there, yes, but compared to their previous Holy Crow, Medicine doesn’t have that bounce, that joie de musique, that fever that makes music memorable.
The rock is there. Each track has it, from “Amnesty/Amnesia (A.A)” to “When Christ Was a Cowboy.” Check. But beyond instrumentals, which here support really well, Bella Clava needs Dacey to be on the spot, or a song with a promising synth start like “Survive” falls a bit flat on energy. To compare to their previous album (which is still the best five dollars you’ll spend on Bandcamp), you can hear that extra reach Dacey makes for those vocals, and the guitar slamming right into those blazing jams. Instead, the performances here (“Middle Class Misfit,” “Bitter, Jaded and Dumb”) are too lax, too comfortable with themselves and not engaging enough.
We’re not going to lie: Bella Clava is one of those rare, underground (potentially) great great bands. But they hit a bit of a slump on Medicine, making us want to add a teaspoon more of %#$*!@ rock to make it go down. Take a (near) pass on this one; but be sure to get their Holy Crow if you missed it last time around.
Bandcamp the lovely Bella Clava.