Formed from the ashes of several Philadelphia post-hardcore acts, Belgrade are five guys to whom aggression is evidently no longer a valid outlet to express their emotions. The quintet it seems, has finally succumbed to maturity and the band sounds all the better for it as they manage to maintain a commendable distance from the potential horrors of blandness and Coldplay-like attributes. Their self-titled record is a relatively mellow affair and for the most part the band’s tracks are up-tempo outings although any grand emotional outpourings of happiness remain measured and free from hysterical gestures. There’s nothing on the record that immediately reaches out, grabs you by the scruff of the neck and deplores you with wild eyes and a shower of spittle that “this record deserves your attention right now!” Instead, Belgrade have presented us with a fully formed record that makes plain that the band have already discovered and honed in on their “sound”, despite it being perhaps a little derivative.
The talents of the band members are immediately tangible – they may not be virtuosos, but the guys certainly know how to craft tracks with depth as well as substance. What’s more, Belgrade never allow themselves to explore too far into the musical wilderness; reeling in those meandering guitars before they reach abstract territory whilst still prodding and teasing at the groups musical boundaries. Everything saunters along pleasantly, although it takes several listens before the record stops sounding like forty minutes of inoffensive indie and individual songs can be distinguished amongst the lethargic strumming and severely reverbed lead guitar that carve out pretty little melodies over breezy vocals.
Belgrade stick resolutely to standard verse/chorus/verse song structures, perhaps limiting themselves in that respect and inviting the possibility of accusations of an over-familiarity between the tracks which due to their mellow nature seems a perfectly reasonable criticism. Even so, Belgrade is a record of sumptuous fluidity – effortlessly making the transition from each track to the next in the most carefree of manners. They’re not exactly versatile, but when you sound so assured as Belgrade it becomes a moot point. Belgrade are a band to soundtrack your carefree summer days whilst providing enough sonic texture to demand to be heard through headphones in order to fully experience the bands mesmerizing prowess.
4 out of 5 high fives!