Prepare to have your Heartstrings pulled

Victor Ariat

Smooth sailing for Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at Portsmouth Guildhall

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Juanita Stein, the frontwoman of Howling Bells is not one who likes wasting time.

It may be three years since the Australian quartet’s last album, but when they did get into the studio they laid down a track a day for 11 days.

Those sessions have become Heartstrings, the group’s fourth album, which was released on Monday.

The vocalist and guitarist says: ‘It was very much a conscious decision made by the band and myself in particular because I lose interest very quickly and get bored.

‘I never want a gig to last more than 45 minutes if I’m watching it, and I don’t want an album to last more than 10 or 11 songs.

‘I want it to be like in and out, and make your point.’

While Juanita appreciates that their fans want to hear plenty of songs at a live show and she promises they will be onstage for more than 45 minutes, sometimes less is more – it’s about retaining an element of mystery.

‘I’ve been to concerts where they go on for two or three hours,’ she says, ‘and it doesn’t matter how much I love them the band, I don’t want them to play that long.

‘It’s exhausting for the audience and the band.’

The band recorded the album in London’s Assault and Battery Studios with acclaimed producers Catherine J Marks and Alan Moulder.

It was the first time the band have recorded in their adopted hometown.

And with a sound that encapsulates a blend of southern gothic and indie rock, the new album’s title is an apt one.

Juanita explains: ‘In essence, it’s about a grand feeling of awareness of time and a feeling of urgency that’s more apparent on this record than the last one.’

When talking about the album’s themes, she also refers to ‘past experiences,’ and how she is ‘the sort of person to suppress negative emotions’, that can take time to surface.

She also praised the album’s producers: ‘Catherine produced most of it, Alan had a relationship with us where it was more like he oversaw the album.

‘Alan gets right to the point, so I really enjoyed that symbiosis.’

Also in the band are Juanita’s brother Joel Stein on guitar, Glenn Moule on drums and Gary Daines on bass.

They play the final night of their current tour at the Wedgewood Rooms on Monday. Doors at 8pm, and tickets are £9. Go to or call (023) 9286 3911.