I’m a cynical person by nature, so most happy music makes me
skeptical. How can you possibly sing about everything being all sunshine
and rainbows when there is so much trouble and strife in the world? By
the same token, the older I get, the less interested I am in listening
to music that simply wallows in misery. It seems like a waste to spend
so much time on feeling bad. Veronica Falls ride the line between
optimism and pessimism, making happy music with heavy hearts.
Veronica Falls are a co-ed foursome from Glasgow via London. The band
consists of singers/guitarists Roxanne Clifford and James Hoare,
bassist Marion Herbain, and drummer Patrick Doyle. Their self-titled
debut collects several of the well-received singles they’ve released
since forming in 2009, as well as new material.
The band mixes punk chords, sixties pop, and dark lyrics into a
concoction that is gloomy and peppy at the same time. Album opener
“Found Love In A Graveyard” is a nice summary of their sound. Elements
of surf rock, garage rock, and Elizabethan folk songs combine into a
melancholy jangle, the morbid lyrics contrasting with the gorgeous male
and female vocals. “I’m broken-hearted/ Dearly departed,” they sing,
mourning a lost love.
On songs like “Right Side of the Brain,” they recall Tiger Trap’s
masterful take on feminine pop punk, but there is little twee about
Veronica Falls. The competing male/female vocals are reminiscent of the
Mamas and the Papas, although Roxanne Clifford sounds more like Lush’s
Miki Berenyi than Michelle Phillips.
Despite the depressing nature of most of their lyrics, there is more
joy than ennui in Veronica Falls' music. They capture the delicious pain
of young love. On the upbeat “Misery,” they sing “misery’s got a hold
on me,” as if it were the best thing in the world. These juxtapositions
between optimism and sadness, between punk and pop, and between male and
female vocals are what make Veronica Falls such a strong act. From the
surf punk of “Beach Head” to the pop shimmer of “The Box,” Veronica Falls is a wonderful bummer, guaranteed to make your worst moments bearable.
Article first published as Music Review: Veronica Falls - Veronica Falls on Blogcritics.
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