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First Play: Belle Game, Fear/Nothing

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Andrea Gin

Editor’s note: lyrics contain profanity.

The first thing fans of Vancouver dream-pop band Belle Game will notice about the group's sophomore album Fear/Nothing is that, while they sound like themselves, they also sound markedly different. There’s something more powerful and confident about the band this time around.

According to vocalist Andrea Lo, their growth as a band (which also includes guitarist Adam Nanji, keyboardist Katrina Jones and drummer Alex Andrew) can be attributed to their growth as individuals since they recorded their debut album, Ritual Tradition Habit, four years ago.

“Proceeding and evolving along a creative path, really any path, can be challenging as it calls for honesty, vulnerability and the eventual dissolving of conditioned ideals and the persona,” she writes via email. “It took a lot of strength through fragility to do that, and I think that song by song, through the course of writing the album, we began to see that evolution more and more.”

Ritual Tradition Habit not only introduced them as a band capable of producing lush, ethereal pop soundscapes, but it was also the first time we heard the potent, mesmerizing vocals of Lo. In the three years of writing — between Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal — they’ve only grown, developing their sound into what they refer to as "crush pop." Their music feels more dramatic, encompassing and impressive.

Contributing to the new direction and sound are producers Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene) and Dave Hamelin (the Stills). The band met Drew at the Banff Arts Centre in 2013 during a songwriting residency, and he introduced them to Hamelin soon after. Connecting with the duo proved to be a turning point for the band.

“It’s difficult for me to find the words to explain how deeply these two have contributed to our process and expansion as individuals and a band,” writes Lo. “Beyond their immense creative abilities, these two profoundly changed our relationship and conversation with music, most often simply through their presence.”

The first single from the album, “Spirit,” features Drew on backing vocals and a cinematic video that chronicles the adventures of a fictional female Well of Death rider in India.

The mood and soundscape of "Spirit" is indicative of what you'll hear on Fear/Nothing. The sound constantly shifts, rolling back and forth between dynamic and drifting, willful and floating. Lo says the dualities in their songs are the result of the members of the band striving to find balance in life.

“We are hateful, we are loving, we are depressed and we are in ecstasy, we are tangible and we are disassociated, all at once, and where we can house all of this together, this is the centre. The spectrum of the human experience is so colourful but I think that at times to preserve our sense of stability — might I even say identity? — we often deny ourselves our full experience.”

Fear/Nothing will be released on Sept. 8 via Arts and Crafts. You can pre-order the album here. Belle Game will be on tour supporting Broken Social Scene starting on Sept. 16. Find their full list of tour dates here.