Few Bits – Big Sparks

Belgian indie dream-pop band Few Bits has been pretty quiet for a while in regards to new material, with their last album out in 2013. But they’ve decided it’s time to re-introduce themselves to the world, with their newest release “Big Sparks”. Layered synths and guitar help to create a solid sophomore album that’s slightly marred by its over-familiarity.

This release is chalked full of character and is particularly personal to lead singer Karolien Van Ransbeeck. The girl in the album art sums up the tone of the album perfectly, as described by Karolien: “She is small and vulnerable but at the same time she is looking into the camera with anger and determination. Combativeness too. I recognize myself in that.” The lyrics explore a darker side of love and relationships, commenting on the conflict that exists in so many relationships but is hardly ever discussed. It’s a topic of substance and adds to the value of the well-produced tracks.

As it is, Few Bits‘ sophomore LP “Big Sparks” feels like a strong piece of work that joins a very large pack.

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Her vocal style manages to sound fresh while still carrying a familiarity with it. It’s backed by a strong choice of synths and an excellent guitarist. Lyrics-wise, they’re not breaking new ground here. “Sweet Warrior”, while probably the best track on the album, tells us that “love want’s to be free, ASAP”. It’s not a bad motif, but it is overused. If you listen closer, the percussion definitely sounds like the weak link in this whole ordeal. It tends to be simplistic and under-emphasized, with a bit of an 80s-feel but not in a good way. It’s an issue that was present in Few Bits’ debut album as well and should’ve been resolved this far into their career.

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This genre of indie-folk – with soft yet emotional vocals backed by airy synths – has expanded generously over the past couple of years. This creates a problem for bands like Few Bits. It’s proving increasingly challenging to stand out here, and I fear that Few Bits has waited too long to come back to this scene. If they had continued to develop their sound and refine their play-style, then I truly think they could be a powerhouse in this genre. As it is, though, Few Bits‘ sophomore LP “Big Sparks” feels like a strong piece of work that joins a very large pack.

Few Bits newest release is filled with emotional tales and self-exploration. Van Ransbeeck’s singing style is captive and soothing, while still instilling all of the right feelings. Unfortunately, they are coming back to a crowded playing field, and “Big Sparks” feels a bit too underwhelming and comes a lot too late.

“Big Sparks” was released on September 30 by [PIAS].

Peter Vowell
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