Reviewed: In The Valley Below’s ‘The Belt’

Artist of the Month, In The Valley Below, have finally unleashed their hypnotizing debut, The Belt, on America. After releasing several EPs, including this year’s Man Girl, I started to question if we’d ever get to hear this album, but the wait, like most things desired, was absolutely worth it.

Opening track, and crowd favorite, “Peaches,” sets the tone of The Belt without ruining any surprises. This is probably the first ITVB track you’ve heard and using it as a debut’s opener is clever placing. They’ve got you now, but chances are, you’re not looking for a way out.

“Neverminders” comes barreling in with a sucker punch that lets you know they mean business with just the right amount of synth to keep it sweet enough, while “Last Soul” keeps the momentum going steady. Keep this one handy for dark, moody, windy nights near the ocean.

Personal favorite, “Hymnal,” will ignite chills and solemn wistfulness. “I wish I found you sooner / I could have loved you longer.” Beloved 2013 EP favorites “Stand Up” and “Dove Season” showcase what this duo are really made of. Angela Gail and Jeffrey Jacob’s vocals blend effortlessly together; it’s hard to picture these two doing anything else but this. Suddenly, going for a lush nature walk with this album as a companion sounds like exactly what the doctor ordered.

The biggest surprise is “Take Me Back,” which takes on an 80’s pop persona that delights as much as it pacifies, while the rest of the album keeps on astounding. You think you’ve heard it all until another track pulls you in for an additional four and a half minutes. Needless to say, I’m so far gone in this album that I’m pretty sure it’s the best fitting belt I’ve ever purchased. (That was lame, huh? I apologize.)

The Belt is a remarkable debut that steals your senses and multiplies them by the end. It’s music to grow up to; to change to; to fall in love to; to fall apart to. That’s ultimately what music is all about – to be able to learn and move forward with a song to keep you company…all with a secure belt to keep it all together. (Damn. I did it again…)

The Belt is available now HERE.