Now lushily re-duxed on girly marbled vinyl, Belly‘s first LP Star was/is a bright young thing, a glass-refracted dream stirring up a Brothers Grimm-like syntax. Tanya Donelly‘s bewitching delivery, swimming in our head, deceptively sweet with a sting of crazy paved darkness bleeding on through. Driven out on the feel-good adrenalin of immaculate guitar work with pools of teasing melody, Star is a super-assured vision, with some songs purposely under-baked and mulled over in witchy contrast to the radiant beams of the more radio-friendly bedazzle; its fifty minutes just fly by.Back in the day, Star was an instant hit with the media machine, at odds with the usual chemistry that was donkey-pinned for success. I remember Radio 1’s happy-go-lucky Simon Mayo — or was it Bates? (how forgettable is all that shit) — recoiling somewhat on realisation that the bouncy tempo(ed) pop of “Feed the Tree” was about death; a rare moment to savour. The singles “Gepetto” and “Slow Dog” were a welcome change from the usual chart diet too. Perfect for letting the sunshine in, tracks that hit the spot completely in out-loud singability. “Gepetto”‘s catch-catcher-can brims clip-winged in sparkling medolics, the guitar chop-flooding over a skipping rope of beats, a real hip-swinger that even the most stoic couldn’t resist. The chord Jenga of “Slow Dog” too, hungry for your attention in clouds of kicked dirt. A twang of country barn dancing its heady spirals, the kinetic heights pulling a heap of interesting swoon-a-genics.
This was all meant to be for the second Breeders album, before Kim Deal got sister Kelly involved and fired off like a Cannonball elsewheres. The tracks here certainly seem to be graduating from Pod‘s sultry settings – empty rooms filled with chairs, river-moving angels and see-through dogs, the soak of murmuring otherness especially captured in the twirl of “Every Word” and its sinking sand of repeated refrain.“Low Red Moon”, its “tiny horses held kindly” to a dirge like organ and peppered percussive trailing darkly, the focus stripped to a stark tightrope, Tanya in the centre shining brightly in the glint of knives before building back to a moon-cast procession once more. The endless strum of untogether dangling out on a carrot of could-have-beens and sliding steel. This is bloody gorgeous. Part autobiographic, part fairytale and a crisscross of indecipherable betweens, Star will no doubt continue to snag the unsuspecting with its allure for years to come.