In The Valley Below
Label Arts & Crafts/Warner
On August 26th, In The Valley Below will release their full-length debut, The Belt, on Arts & Crafts. The Los Angeles duo is comprised of Angela Gail and Jeffrey Jacob, who wrote, recorded and produced the record themselves in their home studio. Best described by LA Weekly as a cross between “Buckingham and Nicks filtered through Collins and Bush…but steeped in softened astral aspirations”, The Belt succeeds by prefacing its radio friendly production with more artistic leanings. At its core, it is a rock record with elements of synth-pop, but there’s a lot more going on under the surface. It’s stylish, and manages to feel both uplifting and bleak – music-noir for urban dwellers.
In The Valley Below reveal their intentions early on, with the album’s first track and lead single “Peaches”. The characters created by the duo are cinematic, and live in the present. Gail sings “I’ve been working on my knees baby it’s alright”, and Jacob responds with “you can steal from me baby, that’s just fine, you can say it’s free, baby, that’s alright”. On the chorus, both sing in unison: “We won’t live too long, so let’s live for one song”. When asked what their main inspirations for The Belt were, Gail suggested “sex, crime, religion and how that fits into the lives we’ve chosen, our dreams and struggles, mistakes and heartbreaks.” These themes persist throughout the record, challenging the listener to confront dark imagery that rarely sneak into popular music.
With “Peaches”, Jacob and Gail paint a vivid picture of two lovers on their last legs, and it’s equally rich from a musical perspective. Flourishes of synthesizers float in and out of the song (the most present is a brass melody that meanders in the background of the chorus), but never owerpower the rest of the song or try to grab cheap hooks. “Peaches” is so full of energy that it could pass for a live recording of a full band. It is unmistakably the work of two songwriters with a clear vision, and the musical skills to realize it. The Belt is a great record, and an admirable debut.