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9 Reviews
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Album
I've played this album about a dozen times now.

At first I wasn't so sure whether I liked it as much as their debut. It's certainly more radio-friendly than its predecessor (the irony of the title isn't lost on me!) and the production feels a hundred-times better too.

As it is then, I've grown to love this album. Melody-wise, it hits the spots in...
Published on 16 Mar 2009 by Paul

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing follow up
Having seen the howling bells live 4 times and being a big fan of the first album i was eagerly anticipating Radio Wars. However, i was left somewhat underwhelmed when this arrived in the post. It is a 'grower', that is for certain. But then it could only get better considering my opinion of it after the first listen. After 5 or 6 plays i no-longer feel embaressed to be...
Published on 18 Mar 2009 by Richy


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing follow up, 18 Mar 2009
By 
Richy "Rich" (Norfolk, England) - See all my reviews
Having seen the howling bells live 4 times and being a big fan of the first album i was eagerly anticipating Radio Wars. However, i was left somewhat underwhelmed when this arrived in the post. It is a 'grower', that is for certain. But then it could only get better considering my opinion of it after the first listen. After 5 or 6 plays i no-longer feel embaressed to be listening to it. Just very unexcited by it. They've ditched the brilliant country/gothic sounds that made the first so interesting and instead have gone for...well. I don't know how to describe it. slightly trashy pop? Maybe thats a little harsh. But it certainly isn't an interesting proposition.

There are some proper 'tunes' on it. 'Watchtower' is actually a very good opening track, whilst 'Digital Hearts' had hints of PJ Harvey to it (which at least to me is a plus point). 'Cities burning down' is a very good track as well. The original in my opinion is better but this song is one of the few not to suffer from a 'bigger and poppier' sound. 'Ms Bells Song' is bit of a gem-the only track that really could have slotted nicely into the first album. But there are some real blanks on the album as well. 'It ain't you' almost sounds like its going to develop into something melodic but then it literally goes nowhere. 'Golden web' is funny. Not in a good way. 'How Long' tries to bring some emotion to the end of the album but really does fail to deliver like 'Into the woods' and 'I'm not afraid' on the first album. 'Let's be kids' is just awful. I know thats a strong word, but if you listen to that song you'll understand.

The second disc is ok. The live performances are better then the album versions. But with only 7 songs it's over quicker then you'd hope. However, i think it does portray an accurate account of the howling bells live and how some of these songs could have been on the new album.

After an unhealthy amount of rambling on i'll try draw this to a close. This album does have a couple of good points, so don't be totally put off by my negativity. If you've never heard howling bells before then go for their self titled debut. If you like your radio friendly pop/rock then you may actually like this. However, if you were hoping for more atmospheric rock like the first album i think you may be left disappointed by Radio Wars.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Casualty Of Conflict, 23 Mar 2009
By 
Gannon (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
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What made the eponymous debut great was its menacing blend of mildy gothic pop-rock and hints at alt.country. The debut was brooding and haunting, the sound was PJ Harvey enjoying a knees up with Josh Homme, the Cocteau Twins spinning in the background. In retrospective brutality, that debut has not aged well and sounds a little MOR in comparison to some of today's experimental and challenging luminaries. Yet, stand out tracks still stand out. The bombastic induce yawning indifference.

Radio Wars does not differ from this template. All that has changed is the ratio of pop to rock. Where previously Stein convulsed with meaning now she coos passively. Like the debut, Radio Wars' stand out moments appeal. `Cities Burning Down' welcomes back the trademark menace, the latter half of the title track is sinister melody embodied. `Into The Chaos' picks up where `Low Happening' left off, but is neutered in comparison.

The weaker tracks on the album are sadly bland to the point of banality. `Nightingale' is a cadent pop-rock piece, delivered lethargically. `Let's Be Kids' reintroduces the shoe-gazy element of the debut, vocally recalling the Cocteau Twins afresh, but it's a pity these lyrics are so trite. The musical backdrop is frustrating indie Muzak. `Golden Web' is an inadvisable and wistful duet, which embraces lost love against a spider and fly analogy.

Radio Wars is not a bad album, let that be clear. In fact, it is a lot better than initial listening suggests. The good does indeed outweigh the bad, but the so-so outweighs both. The problem with promise is sustainability. It is rare to achieve commercial and critical success and Radio Wars appears to have aimed to please the former rather than the latter. Only time will tell if the radio bites.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not the greatest, 4 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Radio Wars (MP3 Download)
I like the band, but other albums from this group are better and more interesting. Nice addition to my collection though.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Howling Bells - Radio Wars, 17 Mar 2009
It has been a long three years since Juanita Stein and co unleashed their debut, and Radio Wars arrives having suffered delays and the band label difficulties. The signs weren't particularly encouraging when Into The Chaos slipped out last year, the track lacked the atmosphere and drive of their live performance. This was a common criticism of much of the debut too, there was a few great ideas but when stretched over a long-player it seemed a little one-paced and drawn out. A similar underwhelming feeling pervades Radio Wars, despite it's shorter length. In fact all the pluses and drawbacks of the debut apply to this second effort. The good tracks (Cities Burning Down, Nightingale) are great; soaring guitar lines and wistful vocals. However some of the record feels forced and leaden, not helped by some poor lyrics (check Let's Be Kids as a case in point) and uninventive rhythms. That said, the good songs outweigh the bad and this is a solid album - it just needs a little bit more of the excitement so prevalent at their live shows.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Album, 16 Mar 2009
By 
Paul (Cheshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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I've played this album about a dozen times now.

At first I wasn't so sure whether I liked it as much as their debut. It's certainly more radio-friendly than its predecessor (the irony of the title isn't lost on me!) and the production feels a hundred-times better too.

As it is then, I've grown to love this album. Melody-wise, it hits the spots in all the right places and there are some fabulous guitars & harmonies throughout. I wondered if Howling Bells would continue to use the services of Ken Nelson (Coldplay) for the production on this album after his mediocre production of their debut and I'm so glad they didn't. This sophomore album feels so much more widescreen in its sound than their debut.

There are some wonderful gems on here, not least the title-track itself, but also 'Into The Chaos' and the fabulous 'Cities Burning Down'.

This special-edition is a nice package too. A hardback book featuring two CDs, the album plus a nice second disc of live material spanning tracks from both albums. A nice touch.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What Happened?, 20 April 2009
By 
avl06 (The Village) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Radio Wars (Audio CD)
A couple of good songs but this is sadly bland, generic indie, gone is the Twin Peaks house band of their instant classic debut. Underwhelming, disappointing, what the heck happened? A band who seem to not know what made them good in the first place.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, very good but..., 1 July 2009
Good straightforward indypop, but lacking the gothic twist which made their eponymous debut album such a joy. Worth having, and enjoyable, but now the difficult second album is out of the way, maybe the third will be the stunner I hoped this would be.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good not Great 2nd album, 13 Jun 2009
By 
J. Temple "book nut" (UK) - See all my reviews
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Good second album, not great.

If you are new to this band I would recommend their first album over this one. I must admit that the new songs did sound good live.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lighter sound but still very, very good., 29 May 2009
By 
Mr. S. Williamson (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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Their second album has a much lighter sound than their slightly gothic sounding eponoymous debut but, in my opinion, is still a classy CD that will be playing on the patio during this year's barbeque season. Like many bands this year the Howling Bells have decided to go for a more poppy sound with waves of light synths flowing in the background on several tracks and why not? Worth a purchase.
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Radio Wars
Radio Wars by Howling Bells (Audio CD - 2009)
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