Saturday, March 30, 2013

Waiting For Something To Happen - Veronica Falls

Waiting For Something To Happen
Veronica Falls
Slumberland SLR 185

No record released in the past few years has given me more pleasure than "Veronica Falls" the 2011 debut album by Veronica Falls.  I could hardly wait for their next one and bought it the day it came out.  I love it.  This band absolutely slays me.  I saw their show at the Troubadour last Friday and it was pure rock and roll magic.  From the opening number "Tell Me" off the new record to their brilliant encore cover of Roky Erickson's "Starry Eyes" they had me wrapped around their fingers.  I could go on and on gushing about how I loved their show, but instead I'll gush about the new record.  It basically adheres to the sound and style of the debut although none of the new tracks rocks as hard as "Beachy Head" or "Come On Over."  With their second album there is more of an emphasis on pop over power (although they made the new songs rock in concert.)  Like the debut, the album sounds great - dueling jangly guitars, crisp drumming and those wonderful three part harmonies from Roxanne Clifford, James Hoare and Patrick Doyle, all of which make this record endlessly enjoyable.  I've been playing it over and over and I'm not even close to being tired of it.  It opens with the highly propulsive "Tell Me" which has a surprising raga rock feel to it.  I find the guitar interplay between Clifford and Hoare quite thrilling to listen to.  The band's debut had a bit of snark to it, but this album feels more sincere and heartfelt.  This song seems genuinely romantic with its emphasis on honesty and sharing.  I like the new outlook.  "Teenage" is an ultra-poppy song laden with hooks and jangly guitar featuring a very sweet lead vocal from Clifford.  It is a charming evocation of teenage romance with an irresistible offer of a late night drive listening to the music I like.  It doesn't make me feel like a teenager again (thank God) but it does make me feel younger.  "Broken Toy" is about two emotionally damaged people trying to connect.  I can relate to the song, it really touches me.  It is a fast paced song that showcases the group's ability to fuse pop songcraft with a hard-driving rhythm that is extremely appealing to a power pop junkie like me.  I love the jangly guitar solos on this song.  In "Shooting Star" Clifford sings about looking for a sign or some direction and asking the subject of the song to help her out.  The song is slower than most of the tracks on the album, which makes the beauty of the band's three part harmonies more noticeable.  This band sounds terrific slow or fast.  My favorite song on the album is "Waiting For Something to Happen" which is like the flipside of "Shooting Star" in that Clifford challenges the subject of the song to stop being passive and show some initiative.  It is another song I strongly relate to.  It is an uptempo power pop song that is loaded with hooks.  My other favorite song on the record is a rocked up slice of jangle pop, "If You Still Want Me."   It reminds me of early R.E.M. which is about the highest compliment I can make.  It depicts another troubled relationship in which Clifford asks "if you could have me, would you still want me?"  If she is asking me, the answer is "yes."  Side two opens with the loud feedback that precedes the love song "My Heart Beats" which is a return to the straight ahead rock attack of their debut.  Doyle's forceful drumming is an integral part of the Veronica Falls sound, if I were a drummer I would want to play like him.  He delivers such a relentless beat, I can't sit still while I'm listening.  "Everybody's Changing" is a slower song full of pop sweetness.  It is about being true to yourself and moving forward.  The rocking "Buried Alive" is the oddest song on the album, its striking lyrics evoke the goth imagery the band played around with on their debut.  Clifford sings "I wanna get sick, I wanna catch everything you've ever caught" which is not a sentiment you hear very often in a pop song.  "Falling Out" is a pretty jangle pop song about trying to keep a relationship going.  The chorus on this song really sends me.  "So Tired" is a pounding rocker that finds Clifford looking for change, something different from what she already knows.  "Daniel" is a slow, heartfelt plea for the lover of the song to remain with the singer.  It is a delicately lovely and moving song.  The album concludes with "Last Conversation" which is about moving on and finding happiness.  I find it very inspiring and uplifting, a nice way to end the record.  I know right now that this is going to be my favorite record of 2013.  I'm just crazy about it.  I'm impressed by the band's growth as songwriters, the lyrics are getting more complex and personal, and the songs are full of pop craft and inventiveness while retaining their rock power.  This is a flawless record as far as I'm concerned and it leaves me hungry for the next one.  I love the album cover too, I would have bought it for that alone even if I had never heard of the group.  With two wonderful albums under their belt, I guess it is time for me to accept that Veronica Falls is now my favorite band.  Recommended to fans of the Shop Assistants and Lush.

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