Release Date: Feb 12, 2013
Record label: Slumberland
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop, Noise Pop
Talk about stepping up. Rack one's brains and it's still a struggle to come up with an album of indiepop – in the most purist sense of the term – anywhere near as good as the second from Veronica Falls. Dropped from their debut is the death fixation that gave them an air of the Cramps in anoraks and alice bands (let's accept the excellent Buried Alive as a metaphor, rather than an observation).
Veronica FallsWaiting For Something To Happen[Bella Union; 2013]By Josh Becker; February 28, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetI'll confess my expectations weren't too high for this, the second LP from London quartet Veronica Falls. Not that I was anticipating anything bad, mind you--the band's self-titled debut from last year was a fun if ultimately forgettable affair--but this is "indie pop," a buzz term which as far as I can tell applies to everyone from St. Vincent to Of Montreal, and with a few notable exceptions (including the two artists I just mentioned) it's primarily characterized by safety.
There's an old adage that says if something isn't broke then why fix it. Whether Veronica Falls pay much if any attention to such idioms is debatable, but having announced their arrival in style with 2011's excellent self-titled debut, it's a case of business as usual here. Which is just as well, when all's said and done. Similar in structure, lyrical themes and musical reference points to its predecessor, Waiting For Something To Happen is nevertheless a mature - if not quite as immediate - progression.
A swirling, centripetal force guides Veronica Falls' sophomore effort Waiting for Something to Happen. The album's 13 wistful numbers have a billowing jangle reminiscent of Felt, Talulah Gosh, The Aislers Set—really, name any C86 touchstone or one of their acolytes. But more so than on their fine self-titled debut LP, Veronica Falls sound like a band here, a well-oiled outfit replete with formidable rhythmic chops and dynamic band interplay doubtlessly honed from over a year's worth of gigs.
If any genre seems out of place in 2013, it is the typically British brand of indie pop commonly called “twee.” That little word is about as flattering in the U.K. as “emo” is in the States, and it has been attached to bands as varied as Los Campesinos! and Belle & Sebastian, with neither particularly flattered by the label. Recently, both the debut of Veronica Falls and the two albums from Allo Darlin’, have reached beyond their London scene and caught American attention, all while flying closer to a C86-mold of distinct “tweeness” than B&S or Campesinos ever have.
Struggling to pin down Veronica Falls' sound, an interviewer recently told frontwoman Roxanne Clifford, "You know, you aren't twee. " To which she replied, with exaggerated enthusiasm and perfect comedic timing, "Thanks!" It's easy to understand why people were quick to tack ready made labels onto Veronica Falls' sound when they first appeared on the indie pop scene several years ago. There's something familiar and retro-leaning about the London-based quartet-- a band daring to jangle in the long shadow of C86, copping a moody pose that's equally indebted to Morrissey and the Jesus and Mary Chain.
The charm of Britpop exports has been reverberating through our ears since the heyday of moody masterminds like The Smiths and The Stone Roses. The London-by-way-of-Glasgow outfit Veronica Falls subverts our beloved ’80s indie-pop ballads into blackened bubblegum ditties while remaining irresistible—enchanting, even. The four-piece’s sophomore album, Waiting For Something To Happen, is something both sinister and sweet, dripping with shoegaze guitars and harmonies abound.
When Veronica Falls released their self-titled debut in 2011, they brought their own melancholic pop recipe to a scene already inundated with jangly guitars, boy/girl melodies and songs about unrequited love. On their second album, the goth-pop enthusiasts pick up where they left off. Songs are effortlessly catchy, upbeat and even, dare I say, sunny.
Veronica Falls' debut was the kind of record it's very hard to follow up. It was filled with singles and really strong album tracks, each performed with a raw energy and a dark mystery that combined to make it one of the better indie pop albums in recent memory. The question for any band that has such an impressive debut is what to do with the next step -- do you repeat yourself to possible diminishing returns or do you try to change things up right away? Veronica Falls try to do some of both.
The most satisfying thing about getting to know Veronica Falls is discovering their hidden side; the side the shy and bashful band only show once you’ve invested enough time in them and can see past the sickly, sugary-sweet gloss they coat over anything. On first listen they’re the annoyingly upbeat, viewing the world through rose tinted glasses and neatly bobbed hair, with a perma-grin slapped across their face. And then you listen to the lyrics.
A second album called Waiting For Something To Happen might be asking for trouble. Thankfully, second-album syndrome has bypassed the London four-piece Veronica Falls. On the latest collection, the band delivers a seamless selection of 13 brisk tunes that are instantly hummable. The earlier gothic shackles and preoccupations with death have given way to a gentler exploration of life, as teens give way to twenties.
Veronica Falls’ self-titled debut was a fun slice of pop, delivering solid guitar lines and catchy choruses with a distinct goth-tinged tone that lent the album a bit of separation. Still, song structure was not terribly varied and hooks were good but not memorable, so I, for one, was hoping that the follow-up, Waiting For Something To Happen, would highlight improvements in songwriting while expanding a bit on the band’s unique niche in a crowded market. As it turns out, the band opted for a stylistic shift more than a shift in structure and expansion of songwriting.
The opening salvo of Veronica Falls’ comeback single ‘Tell Me’ sounds like The Stone Roses’ ‘Waterfall’ meets Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Tusk’. It’s a fine start, and one that should lead to the London quartet branching out from the Pastels-meets-The-Vaselines indie they did so well on their self-titled 2011 debut. Instead, what they offer on ‘Waiting For Something To Happen’ is a fey-pop selection box that leaves out the gothic grit and garage-infused rabble of early tracks like ‘Found Love In A Graveyard’ and ‘Beachy Head’.
If you’re a fan of twee pop (or C86 or whichever term you prefer), you’d understand if I suggested that what makes that style of music work is the lack of derivation from certain stylistic signifiers. The guitars are always crisp and jangly, the rhythms are usually very basic, and the lyrics are lovelorn tales of young people too awkward and romantic to ever experience love. It’s a tried and true formula, and while it has produced more forgettable bands than memorable ones (for every Field Mice, there’s a Stargliders), it’s something that works well without much need for variation.
Veronica Falls Waiting for Something to Happen “I won’t look back anymore,” the English band Veronica Falls promises, in nicely meshed boys-and-girls harmony, on its second album, “Waiting for Something to Happen” (Slumberland). Which may be disingenuous since Veronica Falls very much looks back to the early-1990s indie-rock of bands like the Breeders, and back even further to the new wave of the Feelies and New Order for the constant, motoric rhythms, strumming or drumming (or both) on every eighth-note. Yet in the hands of Veronica Falls the familiar approach sounds both innocent and strategic; there’s eagerness in the way the whole band attacks every note, while the tiniest acceleration in tempo feels like a headlong rush, especially as the voices converge.
With their innate pop sensibility, raucous guitars, galloping drums and seemingly surgically attached sunspecs, Veronica Falls and their self-titled debut came across as as a spiritual successor to early period Jesus And Mary Chain minus the feedback back in 2011. Tracks like ‘Beachy Head’ and ‘Come On Over’ felt like descendants of the Reid brothers’ brilliant ‘Upside Down’. It also garnered the most descriptions of ‘spooky’ since the first Horrors record.So far, so good.
First things first. Veronica Falls’ first album was great fun: twelve medicinal earworms laced with C86-ified sugar, and pretty addictive to boot. As second efforts go, this one here is more than decent, but the trouble with Waiting For Something To Happen is hinted at within the title itself – that selfish bugger known as life has a tendency to happen while you’re sat around waiting for it.
London indie quartet’s second album burns brightly, but briefly. Chris Beanland 2013 Veronica Falls' second album burns brightly but briefly, like a shooting star in the night sky. Waiting for Something to Happen offers a largely breezy succession of heavily harmonised odes to teenage snogging and sneaking in through the back door. You sense the album's title also alludes to the small-town ennui for which popular music has often been the best remedy.