Friday, August 24, 2012
Veronica Falls - Veronica Falls
Slumberland SLR 153
I bought this from Roxanne Clifford after the band's show at the Bootleg Theatre earlier this year, probably the most enjoyable record purchase of my life, she's a real cutie. If I were a younger fellow I'd be crushing on her big time. It was a terrific performance. They followed Bleached who delivered a typically explosive set and I figured that there was no way they could follow that, but they delivered big time with a set that combined the primitive power of the Velvet Underground with the punky charm of the Vaselines and the pop smarts of the Shop Assistants. Awesome stuff. Their music jumped out at me when I first heard them on KXLU last year. Every time they played one of their songs I got all happy and excited. I bought the CD and loved it to death. It was in my car stereo for months. I loved it so much that I had to get it on vinyl. This band pushes all my buttons - cool girl singer with a British accent and a touch of snarkiness, jangly guitars, crisp drumming, and elaborate three part harmonies between guitarist Clifford, guitarist James Hoare and drummer Patrick Doyle. The album opens with their 2010 single, "Found Love In a Graveyard" which humorously recounts a cemetery romance with a ghost, sounding like a goth parody. It is full of hooks and an unstoppable beat. "Right Side Of My Brain" is a bit cryptic, it might be about depression or maybe the singer is just in a bad mood. "The Fountain" is a haunting song about a disintegrating relationship. The lyrics on this song are very poetic and moving. It is one of the best songs on the album. "Misery" is about just that, although for such a downbeat song, the music is almost joyous, with gorgeous harmonies and more juicy hooks. I find myself happily singing "misery got a hold on me" as if I were singing about a picnic in the park. The unhappiness continues on the irresistibly bouncy "Bad Feeling" in which Clifford sings about unsuccessfully trying to forget somebody who did her wrong. Side one concludes with "Stephen," a song about falling for a married guy. It is the most romantic song on the album and the music is more subdued, the pounding beat and rock and roll drive predominant throughout the side are replaced with a more idyllic and mellow sound. Side two kicks off with the band's ferocious second single, "Beachy Head." This pounding hard rock song is about a part of the English coastline, a giant chalk cliff that is popular with people wanting to commit suicide. It is a harsh song, but amusing as well. The highly propulsive "All Eyes On You" seems to be a put down of a narcissist. That song really rocks. It is followed by "The Box" which I believe is about a relationship where one person is more committed than the other. Perhaps because the song is written from the point of view of the person who just wants to have fun, the music is upbeat despite the unhappy nature of the song. It starts out sounding garage before becoming poppy with almost a surf-rock feel in its reverb drenched guitar solo and doo-wop style background vocals. "Wedding Day" is another fast paced rocker in which Clifford tells an ex-beau that she skipped his wedding because she knows he loves her more than his bride. This song is full of killer hooks. "Veronica Falls" is not about a waterfall but rather the fall of a girl named Veronica. It is a really pretty and atmospheric song, it reminds me of the Chills. I love the interplay between the guitars, particularly the cascading arpeggios at the end of the song which send me every time I hear them. The album ends with "Come On Over" which was the highlight of their live show for me, it was so devastatingly powerful it sent me into rock and roll ecstasy. The vinyl version is equally yummy. It starts off slow and majestic and then the band shifts into high gear and blows me away with a wall of sound. After rocking out for awhile they slow down for another soft, pretty section before taking off again to bring the song into another breakneck, roaring passage and then slowing down at the end for a lovely finish. The song's brilliant hard/soft dynamic reminds me of the Velvet Underground's "Heroin." Throughout the song Clifford invites the listener to come over and keep her warm although warning that when summer comes around again she'll probably be moving on. This band is not big on sentimentality that's for sure. It is a great song, piling up ringing guitars, throbbing bass lines, pounding drums and girl group-style woo-woo background vocals to create music that I find truly thrilling. If I had a band this is exactly the kind of music I'd want to create. This was my favorite album of 2011 and the best debut album I've heard in some time. The lyrics may be a bit simple and tongue in cheek, the sound may be a bit derivative, but I can't remember the last time a record gave me so much pleasure. The band has taken the best parts of a lot of music that I love and synthesized it into a concoction I find totally intoxicating. I can't wait for the next record. Recommended for fans of Heavenly who wish they had rocked a little harder.