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Belle Da Gama | Garden Abstract (125)
Isn't the human mind a wonderful thing? Well, mine is, to be specific. This disc was giving me more than a fair amount of pleasure, but it was bugging me that I couldn't remember who it reminded me of.  And then it struck me - Let's Active. Having cleared up this mental association with the late-80s twangsters - lead by Mitch Easter, the producer of prime-period REM, and big favourites of mine - I now like it even more. Let's Active only made 3 albums (now truly sadly deleted) so a new one is to be welcomed. But that's not to accuse Belle da Gama of being tribute-band copyists - this disc has the quirky pace changes, Byrds-y harmonies and cute synth bits that might remind you of the other band, but the guitar dominance results in new flavours, and the songs are authentically catchy and sticky. This is Belle Da Gama's debut, the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter is called Bradley Skaught and he was a member of Yuji Oniki's band, it says here. Helpers include Scott Miller, who was Game Theory around the same time as Let's Active, and who later became The Loud Family. The band's name is derived from Salman Rushdie's 'The Moor's Last Sigh' evidently. But enough quoting from the press release - this is a good short CD of solid quirky and lovable short pop songs with all the sweet harmonies and chunky chiming guitars you could wish for.

Jeff Cotton
November 2001