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Belle Game's 'Fear/Nothing' Goes High and Low

Vocalist Andrea Lo speaks with SoundDiego about her soaring sophomore recording

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    Shipbuilding at the Heart of San Diego’s Maritime Way of Life for One Family
    Courtesy of Belle Game
    Belle Game headline Soda Bar on Saturday, Feb. 3.

    If you glance around music's landscape -- streaming services, social media, etc. -- it reveals a hurried environment, one full of non-stop content that's built around restlessness and haste.

    With no time to wait -- for anything -- it's led to a glut of premature concepts, accelerated release dates and half-cooked ideas.

    Fortunately, Vancouver quartet Belle Game aren't caught up in the scramble. And their latest album 'Fear/Nothing,' released last September as a follow up to 2013's 'Ritual Tradition Habit,' is proof.

    "We didn't intend, at the very beginning, for the process to take four years," said lead singer Andrea Lo over the phone, "But life had other plans."

    Indeed, there were timing issues and scheduling delays, with producers busy working on other projects, and that prompted the band to reevaluate their entire approach to making songs.

    "Instead of just doing a rush job, and just being like, 'Okay, let's craft this music and let's get it out there, we were really forced to sit with ourselves and to kind of look at our process,'" she said.

    As it turns out, that wasn't a bad thing, and it's clear from the opening lines of 'Shine,' with Lo's hushed vocals in a wash of synths, that the time spent working on the record was well worth it.

    From an almost whisper, her voice develops through a coquettish rustle into the surging release, "It's not enough, it's never enough" -- pure strength highlighted by the band's fine tuning.

    It's not the sort of straight-ahead lyric that's immediately accessible, since it could signify any number of things. Nor is it the type hidden behind cryptic metaphor that exposes itself after repeated listens. Instead, it stands open-ended and ambiguous, resonating not because the meaning is understood but because it sticks -- you feel it.

    And so it goes, as the rest of the album unfolds in a similar manner -- soaring, manicured and electric, which in spite of the darkness a title like 'Fear/Nothing' implies (that existential nothingness of a vacant abyss) makes for an exciting sophomore recording.

    Filled with rising melodies and an inspired Lo, who delivers a performance rich in emotion and force -- it's alive.

    On Saturday, Feb. 3, Belle Game play Soda Bar (3615 El Cajon Blvd). Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and tickets are on sale here.

    J. Smith, aka 1019, is a San Diego native, rap fan and one half of the rap duo Parker & the Numberman.You can follow him on Instagram at 1019_the_numberman or on Twitter