Had enough of drone-y, dissonant, reverb-drenched R ‘N
R? Too bad. It’s time to suck it up and
make room for one more band with bright-and-shadows harmonies, rackety riffs
and a thing for guitar effects. Veronica
Falls, out of London, runs way ahead of the
Pains-of-Being-Dum-as-a-Vivian Girl pack with a bittersweet debut. They nod to
all the usual influences – Jesus & Mary Chain, VU, Orange Juice etc. – but
in fresh and unaffected ways. “Found Love in a Graveyard” may explore a nexus
of death and teen love as old as, say, Wayne Cochran’s “The Last Kiss,” but it
sounds unencumbered by history, as if these four had just cottoned onto the
scary idea of mortality.
Plus there are actual songs here – chain-saw abrasive ones
like “Beachy Head” and chiming beauties like “Misery” – that stick in your head
after only a couple of listens. Doesn’t hurt, either, that frontwoman Roxanne
Clifford can actually sing, or that fellow-band members Patrick Doyle, Marion
Herbain and James Hoare are capable of dead-on harmonies. Just check out the
little “Rose, rose, rose” round-singing they tuck into the end of
rain-through-windows “Misery.” Sure there
are references here, and songs that sound like other songs (“Stephen” is a dead
ringer for the Pixies’ “Gigantic”), but the whole trick is accomplished with
such brio that you hardly mind.
The band’s members say they met at a Comet Gain concert, and
that’s fitting enough. Like Comet Gain, they mine the darker side of 1960s
garage tunefulness, limning uptempo melodies in shadowy minor keys. And, like Comet Gain, they infuse well-worn
genres with the fizz of new ideas. The musicianship is sharp and competent but
not showy – this is not the kind of band where the drummer learned how to play
last week – underlining hooky melodies with jagged, angsty stabs. But mostly
it’s hard to say what puts Veronica
Falls over the top in a
genre where so many fall flat. Enthusiasm?
Personality? Songs? Probably all of that, as well as the
indefinable quality that makes old genres come alive again.
DOWNLOAD: “Beachy Head” “Found Love in a Graveyard” JENNIFER KELLY