Release Date: Sep 20, 2011
Record label: Slumberland
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop, Noise Pop
By definition or by some unexplainable quirk of fate, Veronica Falls seem to have found themselves lumped in with all things ramshackle, perfunctory and twee. Maybe their lineage goes towards aggrandizing that assumption, what with 50 per cent of the band having served time within Glasgow's incestuous independent scene. Their name too may give the impression of a thirtysomething du Maurier obsessed, pinafore dress and cardigan-clad librarian.
After releasing a handful of singles and songs in 2010 and 2011 that were nothing short of brilliant, expectations were high for the first album from the Scottish noise pop group Veronica Falls. Their early work showed a band that had a perfect formula figured out: take noisy, quickly strummed guitars, add propulsive basslines and simple but powerful drums, and layer sweetly sung female lead vocals and rich backing vocals over the top of insanely catchy songs about love and death. The self-titled album proves that they have mastered it and then some.
The poet Robert Frost once defined tone as “what comes through a closed door when people are speaking out of earshot. We cannot understand the exact words, but the tones of voice tell us what is going on. You can tell if the voice is pleading, demanding or doubtful.” The U.K. band Veronica Falls is all about tone.
Slumberland Records has been experiencing a renaissance spearheaded by the Pains of Being Pure at Heart and continuing with Veronica Falls. Opening with early single Found Love In A Graveyard, the London quartet waste no time setting up the parameters of their sound: boy-girl vocals, floor-tom-heavy drums and jangly guitar that hearken back to the late-80s indie pop scene known as C86. While the songs sound effortlessly crafted, there's a complexity to the melodies and structures that surprises on repeat listens.
At the end of the video for Veronica Falls' "Bad Feeling", Roxanne Clifford, the group's bob-haired singer/guitarist, clad in a dashingly fey polka-dot blouse, picks up an antique book-- the ultimate twee signifier-- and lights it on fire. Given indie rock's recent jangle-pop overload, and the comments that Veronica Falls have made in the press ("people like to romanticize about C86 [but] there were lots of rubbish bands associated with it. .
Among the noise that permeates the current indie pop landscape are a few bands that are skilled enough to cut through with some noise of their own: With their debut, Veronica Falls look to be one of those few. Noise being the name of the game, it's important to pinpoint what sort of noise Veronica Falls is pushing: This isn't your garden variety reverberating noise (though there's some well-used reverb at play here), but rather some good guitars-drums-and-vocals stuff. As much as it fits in the modern indie pop sound, Veronica Falls seems as much a rushed marriage of Pixies-infected indie rock infused with that unforgettable C86 sound.
Thus far, [a]Veronica Falls[/a] have been regarded with a degree of scepticism entirely befitting a band who were signed on the strength of a 10-minute-old Myspace page. Their members look like they’ve pouted on the covers of [a]Belle And Sebastian[/a] EPs, and their attempts to distance themselves from a [b]C86[/b] aesthetic can’t hide the debt their fey indie owes to it. Basically, if [a]Veronica Falls[/a] were a fashion accessory, they’d be a tatty Penguin Classics tote bag modelled after the first-edition jacket of an obscure 1930s novella called You Probably Won’t Have Heard Of This.The irony is that you almost certainly have heard of the bands they take their cues from.
It's easy enough to pick Veronica Falls' musical antecedents – they are children of mid-80s indiepop, the branch of the family that traced its descent from the Velvet Underground's third album. Guitars are frantically down-strummed, though never fuzzed; percussion sounds as though it's limited to floor tom, snare and tambourine; chord progressions are as instantly familiar as a repeat of Dad's Army. Their twin USPs are, first, their cleverly constructed harmonies, which offset the affectlessness of Roxanne Clifford's voice, and, second, that they eschew the twee and embrace the gothic, be it suicide (Beachy Head), romance with the afterlife (Found Love in a Graveyard), or simply nameless dread (Bad Feeling).
Veronica Falls have been building considerable buzz over the past two years thanks to a string of well-received singles. The London quartet’s harmony-laden, jangly guitar pop is the kind of sound proven time and time again to send the average blogger heart a-flutter. Now that the highly anticipated full-length self-titled album is here, plus an upcoming tour in support of The Drums, Veronica Falls are poised to become the Next Big Thing.
Filled with enough dark delights to send tingles up and down your spine. Ben Hewitt 2011 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.
DUM DUM GIRLS “Only in Dreams” (Sub Pop) VERONICA FALLS “Veronica Falls” (Slumberland) THE BANGLES “Sweetheart of the Sun” (Waterfront) Since its inception a few years ago, Dum Dum Girls has felt like a project about reluctance and distance: skeletal frameworks, tersely worded sentiments, diffuse garage-rock arrangements, a coat of white noise slapped on top. It was of the moment, when pilfering from the 1960s and sounding bored while doing so was enough. You could easily imagine the group — largely the project of the frontwoman Dee Dee, with what felt like at best notional input from others — emerging and disappearing at will, never wanting to leave a heavy mark.