Monday, September 19, 2011

REVIEW: Veronica Falls - Veronica Falls

I sometimes get a bit nervous when first listening to an album, particularly a debut album that I have eagerly anticipated because of one or two previously released songs and, perhaps, comments made on the internet by others. To be realistic, the odds of high expectations being met completely aren't favorable. I fear discovering that the album is mostly filler, or that the band tried things it can't do. I can't help it, I grew up in a time where the major labels made a point of putting out albums with a couple of good songs and others you struggled to like before just giving up. Well, in the case of the self-titled debut from Veronica Falls, such worries are unnecessary. This is a remarkably good, and remarkably complete, indie pop release.

Veronica Falls' music takes from several styles -- C86, noise pop, '60s guitar pop, The Velvet Underground -- without being chained to any of them. Comparisons have been made to US bands Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and Brilliant Colors, but I think such comparisons are too confining. The dueling guitars are taut and precise, the rhythm propulsive. The music isn't dreamy music that gradually envelopes you; this is bold music that grabs your attention. And then there are the vocals, confident girl-boy harmonies that remind me of The Seekers (for you young folk, that is a '60s reference and is meant as a high compliment) and other groups from that era.

The songs on Veronica Falls are an amalgamation of dark and light "Bad Feeling" is a fine and representative track, combining an insistent and intense musical foundation for vocals that are sweet to the ear but deliver a more ominous message.

Veronica Falls - Bad Feeling from Philippa Bloomfield on Vimeo.

The combination of melodic sound and dark messages permeates the album. Some of the tracks, like "Found Love in A Graveyard", "Right Side of the Brain" and "Beachy Head" have more insistent, aggressive melodies like "Bad Feeling". Others, like the anthemic "Wedding Day" boast soaring pop melodies. But the bittersweet remains; the song begins "So sorry I missed your wedding day / I didn't know, just what to say", followed by the chorus: "Except you don't look at her like you're looking at me,
She'll never know that's the way, it will be". In the second chorus, vocalist Clifford repeatedly asserts "You don't love her, like you love me".

"Misery" ("Misery, has taken over me / Misery, my old friend / Come with me, I see Misery / Stay with me, 'till the end") also is an excellent pop song with a dark core:

The last clip for this review is "Beachy Head", which seems to me to be a racing, jittery version of surf rock, about a suicide:

Veronica Falls - Beachy Head from Philippa Bloomfield on Vimeo.

Veronica Falls is Patrick, Roxanne, Marion, and James. Several of the members are from Glasgow, but the band are based in London. The album is released on Slumberland Records.


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