Release Date: Jun 9, 2014
Record label: Moshi Moshi Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Bullshit reigns. And Tom Vek knows it. His antidote is sharp, sometimes sweet, always heavy. Thick, drenched crotchets chase quavers, propelling through the sullen depths of life – a comment and a cure ….
It takes time and graft to sound as chaotic as Tom Vek. A six-year gap divided his debut and 2011's Leisure Seizure, and though his third arrives comparatively promptly, every lurching guitar line and electronic squiggle sounds like it was planned with meticulous care. That could be a problem, leaching Vek's offbeat pop of energy and life, but the more he works dissonant elements into these songs, the more thrillingly unbalanced they feel.
There is an antidote to Tom Vek‘s latest album: Take a melodic idea, loop it up, and then really mess with it. It’s been three years since Vek’s last album Leisure Seizure, and with his third effort Luck he has returned sounding as experimental as ever. On first listen, Luck seems incredibly disjointed, but after the second or third listen, it starts to slot into place, and the discordant arrangements and entangled melodies start to make sense.
"No time for an existential crisis," sings Londoner Tom Vek on The Tongue Avoids the Teeth, accompanied by Windowlicker-style electronic wobbles. Listening to Luck, Vek's followup to Leisure Seizure, in 2011, you see his point – there's an exciting sense of urgency. His deranged arrangements are deliciously unpredictable: the Turkish curlicues of Broke dissolve into waves of distortion; Sherman (Animals in the Jungle) is propelled by a grungy bass riff and stadium-rousing drums; while A Mistake starts with a crunchy Keith Richards-style chord before descending into a bass-heavy bedsit lament.
It's fitting that Tom Vek's third album is filled with songs about teetering between crisis and opportunity: after the release of Leisure Seizure, he was evicted from his East London studio to make room for more housing -- the same studio that he'd spent many of the years between his debut We Have Sound and Leisure Seizure building from scratch. Undeterred, he continued working on his music entirely on his own, channeling his frustration into an album that tries to graft order onto chaos, whether through reason, as on the taut opening track "How Am I Meant to Know," or potentially misplaced faith, as on the finale "Let's Pray. " Vek conveys the anxiety and anger coursing through these tracks with hectic beats and synths that seem to buzz with impatience, resulting in tracks that are equally unsettling and appealing, like the Asian-tinged "Broke.
In 2005, Tom Vek created a minor splash in the U.K. when his debut, We Have Sound, spawned four Top 100 singles. After signing with Island Records, the London, England multi-instrumentalist took six years to release his lacklustre follow-up, Leisure Seizure, promptly killing off any momentum he may have built. Luck, LP number three, has Vek back at square one as he tries to rebuild his audience with a batch of earnest, dynamic drum-machine pop.
'Maybe it’s about being angry, or maybe it’s about presenting how silly it is to be this angry', pondered the genre-blending Londoner, Tom Vek, when interviewed by Dazed & Confused magazine about his upcoming album, Luck. “The context of your emotions is a theme.” The context of Luck and its irate, iconoclastic dance-punk, is Vek's eviction from his Pallet Recording studio in Dalston, which took three years to assemble and customise before a song was even recorded, so that new flats could be built. This led to an enforced downsizing, and means that every aspect of this album was crafted by Vek alone, without a trace of collaboration or samples.
With third album, Luck, Tom Vek is largely employing the same tricks as on his first two, the same art-school drawl, the same off kilter riffs and conversational but abstract lyricism. It’s a welcome and unique template, and his shadowy absences only add to his the excitement of his returns. ‘Luck’ opens with the hypnotic refrain of ‘How Am I Meant To Know’, which sees Vek’s multi-layered vocals asking sharp questions such as “What will you think of me”, while his blurry background chant repeats infinitely, simply “How am I meant to know?”.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Tom Vek may not be the most recognizable name in music. After releasing his acclaimed debut We Have Sound in 2005 he went off the map completely and re-emerged six years later with Leisure Seizure to the delight of his cult following. The six year hiatus didn't bring a massive change in direction for Vek, the difference in these albums was mainly in polishing Vek's production skills and refining the homemade dance rock feel of his first release.
Back in the mid-’00s, when indie rock was the sort of thing people would talk about in bars, the correct response to the words ‘Tom Vek’ was ‘underrated’. He’d found that perfect niche, in which every member of his fanbase felt that they, uniquely, had found something special that the wider world wasn’t aware of, and so constantly broadcast this to the wider world. That’s why they sent out the search parties when he went missing for seven years between recording his 2004 debut and his 2011 return.