Saturday, January 19

REVIEW// The Violets; The Lost Pages

Comparisons to Siouxsie and the Banshees have been pretty much constant throughout the three-year musical career of The Violets, and they don’t seem to like it much. So although they’ve recently added a bass player to their ranks (giving them the same touring line-up as the Banshees) and embraced a decidedly gothic look for the artwork of their new LP The Lost Pages and its accompanying singles, the music itself seems to have been composed as a deliberate two fingers to all the lazy journalistic Siouxsie comparisons.

So what does it sound like? Well, The Violets are still giving their old punk sound plenty of voice - it’s here in new track ‘Forget Me Not’, and in ‘Descend’, a new version of a 2006 single with the addition of well-placed stabs of guitar feedback from Joe Daniels. It’s also present in the Hitchcock-inspired ‘Foreo’, released as a single earlier in 2007 and still the band’s best-known tune.

But there are some drastic changes at work. The first thing that the newcomer to the album hears is the pop-punk of first track ‘Shade To Be’. I was actually about to check my disc to make sure I’d actually bought The Lost Pages instead of something by Paramore, before Alexis Mary’s glottal stops persuaded me that I hadn’t been cheated by my record store. Other Siouxsie-defying uncharacteristic tracks include ‘Half Light’ (which is more like country and western) or ‘Nature of Obsession’ (acoustic Latin pop?!). Sometimes this genre-bending approach works (latest single ‘Troubles of Keneat’, a foray into electronics and drum machines, is great), but usually, while they’re not actually bad, these tracks sound like a band pushing their own boundaries for the sake of it, rather than some kind of exciting new sound.

Happily, there is such a sound running through the album. ‘In Your Statue’ is a piece of sweeping post-punk genius, and that thread is continued with the more sedate ‘Co-Plax’, which has even more cryptic lyrics than The Violets’ usual fare - ‘co-plax, co-plan / melts planet to hand’? Understanding what it’s about isn’t really necessary though, because it’s great. ‘Hush Away’, also a single in 2006, was an early example of this dramatic, cinematic sound, and the beginning of the version on The Lost Pages, with Mary’s haunting vocals emerging from a storm of noise, is nothing less than majestic; ‘Parting Glances’, with an extended instrumental outro, would have made the perfect album-closer, and is probably the best song here (rivalled only by ‘Hush Away’).

Yes, The Lost Pages could have benefited maybe from a little less ‘look, we can use acoustic guitars’, and a track reshuffle. But sections of it are evocative, atmospheric, and wonderfully crafted. Isn't saying it sounds like the Banshees recorded it a good thing?

1 comment:

Dimmie Sparx said...

i like them. thanks for this article.