Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 23
  2. Negative: 1 out of 23
  1. What pushes these songs past mere worship involves cunning collisions of robust rhythm, caressing noise, and heavenly melody, with each element equally crucial. Good shoegaze/dream-pop bands mastered one of them; the most exceptional of the heap, like this group, had all three down.
  2. 90
    In Alpinisms, School of Seven Bells have themselves one of the year’s most intoxicating debuts.
  3. Alpinisms is an undoubtedly singular album, setting the bar quite high for this burgeoning trio.
  4. Throughout Alpinisms, the group finds a perfect middle ground between the indie realms of tribal and choral, layering electronic flourishes without letting them overwhelm the arrangements.
  5. This is a lesson in tender restraint you won't want to miss.
  6. When SSVIIB play to their strengths--most of the time--the songs are so smooth that you lower your expectations for any strong hooks, as you would when listening to ambient, only to discover that you’re caught up in a glorious anthem,making this a kind of secret dance-music you didn’t know you were swaying to.
  7. Spacey, ambient, and vaguely tribal, Alpinisms creates a landscape to get lost in. Despite their differing musical backgrounds, the band has a cohesive sound.
  8. Alpinisms is a futuristic manifesto.
  9. 70
    Alpinisms' sweeping, ethereal pop owes a stylistic debt to My Bloody Valentine and the Cocteau Twins, but the debut album by former Secret Machines guitarist Ben Curtis' new project reveals a range of influences and a sophisticated approach to arrangement that sets the trio well apart from less imaginative latter-day shoegazers.
  10. School of Seven Bells, is a far more meditative and electronic affair dominated by former On!Air!Library! entrancers Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, who sing in mesmerizing siren-song unison, even if they sound like a grade-A hookah-bar act at times.
  11. The effect is warm goth--New Order with more eros.
  12. Alpinisms could have used a few more of those moments, when the sounds overtake each other and induce a sense of blissful surrender.
  13. Alpinism is not a perfect record by any means, but it is a confident step in the right direction. [Year End 2008]
  14. While impeccably arranged and charmingly sung, much of the album blurs together into a haze of boilerplate ambience with exotic titles.
  15. SVIIB make good on the promise of their early seven-inches and EPs with this debut full-length for Ghostly International.
  16. Like the band members themselves, Alpinisms is full of promise and obvious talent but would benefit from a more clearly defined direction.
  17. 60
    Its influences and allusions diverse, but fruitful. [Dec 2008, p.110]
  18. The dual harmonies and inherently hypnotic cadences render music that is largely exhilarating occasionally monotonous.
  19. Herren's wall-of-noise productions were clearly a big influence, alongside shoegazing indie bands and Joy Division, though nothing that follows quite measures up to spectacular opening lamundernodisguise, somehow reminiscent of both MGMT and gothic folk troupe Espers. [Dec 2008, p.133]
  20. In their attempt to induce dreams, though, too much of Alpinisms is a laptop-gazing wash out, neglecting the intensity required for this kind of thing, and "Prince Of Peace" inhabits a disturbing world where Enya might front an electronically-enhanced baggy band.
  21. The ethno-tinted dreampop of School of Seven Bells left me stymied and listless and, most crucially for a critic, at a loss for words.
  22. 40
    The dreary emotional content and the sub-MBV soundscapes set out to gaze enigmatically at their shoes. Sadly, they don't get past the navel. [dec 2008, p.115]
  23. With a clearer eye to the cultures whose stereotypes they’re furthering, the Bells could have made a provocative connection between the European forms they’re comfortable with and any number of traditional Middle Eastern and Indian instruments and forms they’re interested in but not serious about.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 8 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Oct 2, 2011
    School of Seven Bellsâ
  2. seanm.
    Feb 5, 2009
    An indie psychdelic trip that does'nt leave you cold. Nods to Valentines and Cocteaus all mushed up with hypnotic rythms that make you An indie psychdelic trip that does'nt leave you cold. Nods to Valentines and Cocteaus all mushed up with hypnotic rythms that make you sway with a smile. A real grower with minimum filler. Impresive and highly recommended. Full Review »
  3. ScottT
    Nov 11, 2008
    Great album!!!