The members of Austin-based band HeadShy have an affinity for the way sound and smell interact with each other, and have carefully crafted their debut full-length around that idea. La Belle Epoque is a set of three sections, each one named The Head Chord, The Heart Chord, and The Base Chord. The names come from a quote in the 1985 novel Das Parfum, in which the layers of a perfume are compared to the layers of a song.

The Head Chord is comprised of the first four tracks. It is slow and quiet, and while at first it sets a somewhat boring impression, it will fully “soothe your senses” (as the album packaging says it’s supposed to) somewhere within “Requiem For The Living,” as the angelic vocal harmonies become easy to fall in love with. The Heart Chord, which is meant to “stir your passion,” begins with “Coma,” an energized track featuring an intense, arpeggiated chorus alongside lyrics that dip into fairytale lore, a welcome change from the earlier languor. The last five tracks make up The Base Chord, there to “free your imagination.” “The Light That Guides The Blind” introduces this section, which has a much lighter feel than the first two-thirds; it sounds like The Smiths if Morrissey didn’t hate everything all the time. The album ends with “Perfect,” a track that lives up to its namesake by dreamily tying together the three parts. By the end, the listener gets the feeling that they’ve learned a lot, though they’re not yet sure what.

Through deep imagery and metaphor, HeadShy have produced a debut that, while very long at 69 minutes, manages to unite completely different songwriting directions under one roof. Each section is drastically different from the others, but through expert craftsmanship they are brought together into something as tasty as peanut butter and jelly.

In A Word: Dynamic

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