Dizzy Spells

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After the demise of indie pop royalty Veronica Falls, the band's Roxanne Clifford jumped continents and landed in Los Angeles. Once there, she started writing songs with guitars like she had in the past, but soon gravitated towards using keyboards and delving deeply into the colder sounds of synth pop. When it came time to start recording, she chose the name Patience and headed back to Scotland to work with Lewis Cook of Happy Meals. The sound of Patience was both familiar and strikingly new on the three singles that were released in 2015 and 2016. Clifford's hauntingly pure vocals remained, her brilliant use of backing vocals was in effect -- though she sang them all herself this time -- and the songcraft was still the perfect mix of restraint and drama. The difference was the programmed beats and variety of synthesizers, which would only be a problem for guitar fanatics. For anyone else, it's hard to argue that "The Pressure" or "The Crush" are any less beguiling or emotionally draining that any of Veronica Falls' best work. Those singles are all present on the first Patience record, Dizzy Spells, and it says a lot about the record that they aren't necessarily the best songs there. Sessions done at home in L.A. resulted in some wonderful songs, too. The Todd Edwards collaboration "The Girls Are Chewing Gum" is an infectious slice of lo-fi house, "No Roses" is a yearning ballad that sounds like baby Yaz, "Aerosol" is wonderfully melancholy '80s pop, and "Moral Damage" is a stately Europop tune that features a vocal turn by Clifford's Veronica Falls bandmate Marion Herbain. She does bring in guitars once or twice, most notably on the New Order-esque "Living Things Don’t Last." Throughout, Clifford proves as adept at pressing keys and programming synths as she was at strumming a guitar, and the different setting gives her a chance to stretch vocally in ways she might not have been able to if buried in reverb and live drums. She sings more assuredly while never giving away too much. She holds on tight to mystery and reserve even when the melody and arrangement -- like on the heartbreaking mini-epic "Voice in the Sand," which comes across like her "Against All Odds" -- yearns for her to break free. Clifford wrings emotion out of smaller gestures, chilly synth sequences, and swooping vocal harmonies. Dizzy Spells isn't a big record and won't knock the listener out (completely) the first time through. Right around spin number five, it'll start to sink in and then it's game over, and the album will be stuck so deep that one would need some serious excavation to remove it. Fans of Veronica Falls can still lament that the band is gone for good, but Patience is a fine substitute that delivers the same great songs and deep feelings only in a different package.

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