Chapel Hill’s Violet Vector
and the Lovely Lovelies have been tearing up Triangle stages since 2006, and I
was privileged to finally catch ‘em perform this past January. To say I was
smitten by their femme-pop tilting psychedelia – equal parts Nuggets-style Farfisa churn, Syd
Barrettesque whimsy and distaff yip ‘n’ yelp – is an understatement. One moment
the band (not all of the members of the fairer sex, incidentally; see photo
below) would be pogoing across a kaleidoscopic, Day-Glo tinted landscape of
Willy Wonka proportions, then before you knew it they were plowing into a
Yardbirds-meets-Sleater-Kinney riotous raveup.
EP II, then,
arrives just in time for a midyear VVATLL fix. Recorded at various Tarheel
studios and mixed by the inimitable Brian Paulson, its five songs handily sum
up the band’s aesthetic to date while ensuring that the “fun” factor gets
pumped plenty high. Opening track “Grass Is Glowing” – now that is a songtitle worthy of Saint Syd – issues forth on a throbbing
fuzz riff that’s joined soon enough by an oozing organ and the telltale tinkle
of a xylophone, then vocalist Amanda Brooks chimes in with her offhanded
observations on the surreal landscape (mental, perhaps?) that surrounds her.
“I’m sleeping in the flower beds/ I’m waking up to the same day/ Can’t get
away!” she squeaks, in mock dismay. “Applesweet,” with its vintage Blondie/B-52s
vibe and glee club backing vocals, is another highlight. And “Technicolor
Electric,” all handclaps, xylophone, Motown-soul bass and ‘60s girl-group vox, is
a pure retro-pop delight; anyone who fondly remembers late ‘70s,
NYC-by-way-of-NC combo The Cosmopolitans won’t be disappointed.
And sure, “retro” is clearly an operative term here, but the
inherent tunefulness and effusiveness on display translates into something that
goes way beyond guilty pleasuredom. “Sounds
like: cheerleaders with organs and bells” – that’s how VVATLL describe themselves
on their MySpace page. Couldn’t have said it better. I’m cheering myself.
Standout Tracks: “Grass
Is Glowing,” “Technicolor Electric” FRED MILLS