Wednesday 6 May 2009

The Veils - Sun Gangs

At the tender age of just 17 Finn Andrews released his first album with The Veils on Rough Trade Records. The Runaway Found was a stonking début, combining 60's influenced indie-rock with some darker tinged quieter moments, all delivered in Andrews unique voice which managed to sound like it had only recently broken and yet also carried plenty of life-experience. Creative differences lead to a changed line-up for the second album Nux Vomica which came after Andrews had spent some time back in New Zealand where he grew up (although he was born in London), and sounded as though they had all been listening to a lot of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. Which is no bad thing. Their third release, Sun Gangs, continues in this vein; dramatic and anguished in places, light and melodic in others, the instrumentation lacking the breadth of the Bad Seeds but coming pretty damn close to that sound which seems to come from somewhere very earthy and genuine. There's no huge departure here which may well be considered a good thing by those who liked what they heard on the previous album, but with such a similar structure there's not much to challenge your preconceptions. That said, it's another quality release from a songwriter who even now is only 25. Bastard.

'Sit Down By The Fire' kicks things off with chord bashing piano, strong choral backing and Hammond organ support from Ed Harcourt which all sounds very positive despite Andrews' frustration that 'There ain't no way to get what I want'. On the title track the music follows the downward trajectory of the lyrics , it's beautiful descending refrain matching the sentiment, 'Where I am going you can't save me'. 'The Letter' is the weakest track for me, sounding far too much like other bands which it is inadvisable to sound like in my opinion (Editors, U2) and is unfortunately followed by 'Killed By The Boom', which sounds like one of those angry tracks you'd be likely to skip on a Nick Cave album if you're anything like me. 'It Hits Deep' carries off the menace of those musical influences well by keeping it simple musically and allowing Andrews voice to carry the emotion of admitting that 'Now there's nothing keeping my heart from breaking.' 'Three Sisters' comes out all guns blazing like a well fuelled ceilidh band at Hogmanay and he sounds perhaps a tad overwrought as he screams out 'Oh my god/ All this for nothing'. That early 60's sound is back on 'The House She Lived In' and comes across as a little twee after the fireworks just before it. 'Scarecrow' slows the pace considerably, intoning an almost religious sound with female backing vocals from Canadian singer/songwriter Basia Bulat. All of which in some way prepares you for the album's longest track, 'Larkspur', which at eight and a half epic sounding minutes has shades of Jim Morrison and the opening to Apocalypse Now but recalls most clearly the sound of Jeff Buckley, another son of a famous musician (Andrews father is Barry Andrews of XTC fame). Whether it feels involved or indulgent will be up to you. After that battering, 'Begin Again' is a simple piano-backed track which highlights the fact that sometimes there's nothing more devastating than hearing that voice and the absolute truth of lyrics like: 'We're all just following the light of long-dead stars'.


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