Release Date: Apr 7, 2009
Record label: Rough Trade
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
There's the “if it's not broke, don't fix it” bands and there's the innovators. But let's face it, everyone gets bored of the bands in the first camp pretty fast, and nobody wants to fund the bands in the second camp during an economic crisis because, let's face it, most of them just screw it up. The Veils fit firmly into a third camp. The best camp.
The Veils are an international quartet that includes a German, a Brit, and two Kiwis. But the band's heartbeat is that of Finn Andrews, a globetrotting goth troubadour from a rock'n'roll lineage (he is the spawn of XTC's Barry, though it seems unfair to mention it since his talent far outstrips others of similar parentage). Not only is Andrews the primary songwriter, frontman, and face of the band (that was his portrait on the cover of 2007's Nux Vomica), but with the group's often spare arrangements and bluesy, sandpapery melodies, it is his keening voice that gives the Veils their emotional wallop.
The Veils released one of the best singles of 2006 in the pulpish Advice for Young Mothers to Be, but it never happened for them. Which might explain why much of their follow-up album sounds panicked, that bit too urgent. However, when they relax, they settle into settle some of the best music of their career. With Finn (son of XTC's Barry) Andrews sounding like a young Ian McCulloch, the songs have a similar dark, spooky grandeur to Echo & the Bunnymen circa Heaven Up Here.
Certain male voices have a pleading quality to them. When these singers open up, a nasal buzz comes through, a yodel gone flat. Those born with that quaver in their voice didn’t sing much before the advent of post-punk. There’s maybe a bit of it to Roy Orbison, or when Robert Plant tried to channel muezzin.
Impressionable singer Finn Andrews masters his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde routine on the Veils' third disc, splitting time between desolately romantic piano ballads ("Begin Again" and the title track) and dense indie rock detonations, most notably textured banjo freak-out "Three Sisters" and early U2 kiss-off "The Letter." Ecstatic, tumbling crapshoot "Killed by the Boom" takes the cake.