Filled with enough dark delights to send tingles up and down your spine.
Ben Hewitt 2011-10-19
If 2011 has oft seemed an annus mirabilis for all things retro – a year marked by its hankering for the past with sepia-tinged releases from the likes of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Dum Dum Girls and Grouplove – then Veronica Falls, with their C86-aping sound, have found themselves haphazardly shoe-horned into the same revivalist grouping. Like the aforementioned cluster of bands, their debts to the past are there for all to see, with their pared-down percussion and guitars leaking with fuzz reminiscent of The Jesus and Mary Chain. But while those other artists have often shown their appreciation for those bygone days with a hefty dose of twee, Veronica Falls’ debut LP plumps for a darker, bleaker sound.
Opening track Found Love in a Graveyard kicks things off in appropriately macabre fashion. A chugging monochrome guitar riff, drained of all life and vibrancy, provides the austere backdrop for singer Roxanne Clifford’s deadpan vocal as she recounts her lustful encounter with a ghostly spirit and intones, "Dearly departed / I’m broken hearted."
Beachy Head, meanwhile, is an ode to the popular suicide spot on the Sussex coast, with death-rattle harmonies and a foreboding racket of a backdrop soundtracking some poor soul’s descent into a watery grave. And it doesn’t take much nous to notice that songs such as Misery and Bad Feeling are unlikely to be full of fun-loving joy.
But while Veronica Falls gamely keep the energy levels up for the album’s duration, they do allow their gloomy mask to slip on several occasions – and amidst the moments of melancholic wonder are a few spots of time-wasting. Wedding Day is a lifeless plod that eschews morbid subject matter for a petty squabble about love and jealousy, with its infantile refrain of "You don’t look at her like you’re looking at me", while the likes of Come On Over and Stephen are merely treading placid water. Oddly, it’s when Veronica Falls plunder the past for black-hearted thrills, rather than opting for these more frivolous moments, that their debut is at its most lively – and despite the odd patch of fluffier filler, it’s still filled with enough dark delights to send tingles up and down your spine.