Veronica Falls

Veronica Falls

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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. Despite a difficult recording process that had them ditch almost all of the results of two weeks work in a pro studio in favor of songs done live in three days in less fancy digs, the album sounds effortless and truly organic in the best sense of the word, like four people blending together to make one perfectly formed sound. A sound that includes the smile-inducing melodies of C-86-style indie pop, the runaway train strum of Wedding Present-influenced indie rock, the fierce energy of the best post-punk, and the kind of sad, death-inspired lyrics that would make a goth kid smile (or at least grimace a bit less). Despite the range of influences on hand and the general proximity of their sound to the popular “beach reverb” scene that surrounded them in the indie world, the band never feels derivative at all, and the end result is a sound that is entirely theirs; rough enough to be exciting, and polished enough to both cut through the speakers cleanly and let the power of Roxanne Clifford’s vocals (and the harmonies that play against her leads so well) shine through. Best of all, the band writes songs that stick with you; both as singalongs that make you feel good, and emotionally tough songs that make you feel. Early singles “Found Love in a Graveyard,” “Stephen,” and “Beachy Head” are all here (in re-recorded form that is a near match for the previous versions), and they are highlights. The rest of the album sounds like singles, too. Whether the songs are rampaging rockers (“Right Side of My Brain,” “Bad Feeling,” and “Wedding Day”), melancholy (but still uptempo) ballads (“The Fountain”), sweet pop songs ("Veronica Falls," "Misery"), or pounding indie rock (Come On Over), the hooks are incredibly sharp, the vocals of Clifford and the guys in the band (guitarist James Hoare and drummer Patrick Doyle) are heartbreakingly lovely, and the performances are filled with energy and nuance. Taken together, the songs add up to the kind of debut album that should simply thrill anyone clued in enough to seek it out. It also makes almost all the other bands playing the same kind of reverb-soaked noise pop sound like they are scuffling around in the dark while Veronica Falls are bathed in the moonlight, making perfect pop and making it look easy.

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