At five albums in nearly 12 years, Victory at Sea are not the most productive of bands. But rather like two other long-running mixed-gender indie groups, Antietam and Yo La Tengo, the Boston-based trio has survived a long period of personnel instability with a lineup that has remained stable for a number of years, and that newfound permanence has allowed singer/songwriter Mona Elliott to refine and perfect the sound she's been building toward since her first singles. Drummer Dave Norton and electric piano master Mel Lederman (who completely makes up for the band's lack of a bassist in ways that the Doors' Ray Manzarek never quite managed) are perfectly attuned to Elliott's style, a uniquely appealing blend of mid-'90s slowcore and tetchy, experimental noise pop. In particular, Norton comes into his own on this album, nearly overpowering the Patti Smith-like ballad "Cecille" with walloping drum rolls that at times threaten to drown out the other instruments but are nonetheless just right for the song's emotional swings. Similarly, Lederman's subtle accompaniment for the grief-stricken "The Letter" gives Elliott's elegiac lyric the gravitas it requires. Although not really an easy listen, All Your Things Are Gone is Victory at Sea's most immediate and direct work yet.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason