True

Violens

Slumberland Records, 2012

http://violens.net

REVIEW BY: Ludwik Wodka

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/09/2015

This album seems to be a kind of turning point for this band as they emerge from the less focused (yet no less appealing) material of their preceding releases. Their material here sounds more focused and consistent, while at the same time demonstrating their ability to write good songs. In spite of the ethereal, reverbed vocals and keyboards, there are strong melodies throughout. Even the B-side of the “Totally True” single (“Something Falling”) is moody and beautiful, leading one to wonder why it was left off the album. It hints at the magnitude of the creative outburst from which this release was born. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Violens begins with “Totally True,” an up-tempo track that layers oscillating guitar figures over the washed-out vocal harmonies, but to a wistful and melancholy melody. A similar approach is used on “When To Let Go,” another one of the album’s highlights, although this song employs a stronger but more complex melody. The disc does take some interesting turns with its instrumentals, such as on the brooding drone of “Lavender Forces” and the odd harmonic turns on “Lucent Carries” that seem like confusion before dissolving into waves of white noise. The rest of the tracks hold faithfully to the sound and aesthetic of the album, making it feel like an “album” in the classic sense.

The prospect of reviving the sound of shoegaze bands from the late ‘80s and ‘90s may seem threadbare at first, but this band also succeeds in deploying the droning and reverb with some restraint, adding just enough to create the desired atmosphere without being too indulgent. At times, the vocals seem to be lost in the mix a bit. Whether to say this is due to a lack of confidence in the singing or just a stylistic affectation can be a tough call. More likely, it is probably regarded as a necessity to achieve the kind of sound they are after. In a way, it draws attention to one’s assumptions as a listener about what their expectations are about where vocal should be in the mix. Nonetheless, the balance works here.

As it seems to be the case with most bands that were pigeonholed as “shoegaze” or “dream pop,” very few have managed to sustain that sound for more than about two albums before moving on to other musical pastures. Until a follow-up release comes out, there is the hope that this band will continue to evolve and mature along this trajectory, and hopefully the songwriting will prevail over the ambient haze and fashionable nods to their predecessors.

Rating: B+

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© 2015 Ludwik Wodka and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Slumberland Records, and is used for informational purposes only.