• Belltower
  • Exploration Day EP (UK Ultimate) 1991 
  • In Hollow EP (UK Ultimate) 1991 
  • Popdropper (EastWest) 1992 

Formed in New York by three Americans but resident in England, the Belltower washes its pretty pop songs in lush, moderately distorted instrumental textures. If not nearly as overwhelming as, say, My Bloody Valentine, the quartet heads in that general direction with far more instrumental aptitude than many fuzzbox collectors. But while their collective guitar playing is impressive, Britta Phillips and Jody Porter (who later joined Fountains of Wayne) don’t really have the right kind of voices for this kind of music-hers has a harsh edge, his is actually too wispy. Fortunately, the gently stirring rock atmospheres are seductive enough to reduce the vocals to a minor distraction.

Popdropper is a compilation of tracks from various British singles and EPs; “Outshine the Sun” and “Solstice,” both from Exploration Day, were produced by Levitation’s Terry Bickers and are the clearest, strongest and most effectively integrated expositions of the Belltower’s pleasurable skills.

[Ira Robbins]

See also: Fountains of Wayne