Hard to believe, but it has been ten years since Howling Bells emerged from the ashes of Waikiki, and what a journey it has been. Still based in London, the Sydney-born outfit now sports a local bass player in Gary Daines.
What it has retained throughout is that almost-too-cool attitude that oozes from frontwoman Juanita Stein and into every punchy guitar riff and creeping bassline. Not many other bands can pull it off.
Howling Bells have held true to their drool-inducing indie sensibilities, which combine elements of alt-country, ambient pop, rock and blues. And Gigwise was right in 2009 – Stein really is one of the sexiest women in rock, and her voice is code word for addiction.
The album kicks off the rollercoaster with one of its most commercial-sounding tracks, ‘Paris’, before taking things up a notch with the jarring juxtaposition of ‘Possessed’. Keeping the listener on their toes, ‘Your Love’ coasts along with an ode to the sensual rhythm of the Wild West, while ‘Slowburn’ is definitely a highlight.
While it doesn’t break the mould of what we’ve come to know and love from Howling Bells, Heartstrings reads deeper into what they’re capable of. Juanita calls? You will definitely answer.