Funnily enough the New York phenomenon of bands like Vivian Girls (QRO album review), Crystal Stilts (QRO live review) and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (QRO live review) is in fact a revival of what was a quintessentially British sound: the mid-80s jangle C86 pop. Veronica Falls’ first single "Found Love in a Graveyard" was initially released on Captured Tracks, the American label of Mike Sniper (a.k.a. Blank Dogs – QRO photos), who contacted them just a few minutes after they put the song on MySpace; now their much-anticipated debut album is already out on Slumberland Records in the States but will only be released in the U.K. via Bella Union next month; and of course their promotion tour kicked off on the left bank of the Atlantic Ocean. But in spite of all that, in fact Veronica Falls are one of the British bands that have started a process of reclamation. Roxanne Clifford (vocals, guitar), James Hoare (guitar, vocals), Marion Herbain (bass) and Patrick Doyle (drums) formed in London in 2009 from the ashes of the now defunct bands The Royal We and Sexy Kids, but they are all from Glasgow, Scotland, one of the original homes of the British twee shambles now so back in fashion. And there is something exquisitely Scottish about them: just think of the Vaselines (QRO live review), even Sons and Daughters and to keep it on the C86 topic, The Pastels.
Veronica Falls was recorded live by Guy Fixsen (My Bloody Valentine, The Breeders) and Ash Workman (Metronomy, Summer Camp) in just three days. Jangly dueling guitars, thumping drums, lo-fi production, male/female poppy vocals and chanting choruses… all the ingredients of this ‘new’ twee-noise pop are there, but Veronica Falls are somehow giving it a twist adding a touch of punk, a hint of garage and a bit of psychedelic (their interesting cover of Roky Erickson’s "Starry Eyes", featured as the b-side on the ""Found Love in a Graveyard" UK 7").
The whole record is a continuous juxtaposition between ominous, macabre tones and a sugary, romance-like vibe. Most songs start with a slow pace and spooky atmosphere to then evolve into faster, carefree, catchy choruses, talking about ghosts, death and bewitched love stories, but all with a subtle irony. On the opener "Found Love In a Graveyard", Clifford falls in love with a ghost; the song begins with a sinister guitar line, gothy boy vocals and scary female hums to then unfold into lovely harmonies and a catchy refrain. "Beachy Head" is an endearing surf-pop ode to Britain’s foremost suicide spot with a great chorus and guitar layers twisting over each other. "Stephen" tells about an idealistic boyfriend over a surprisingly loud great bass line and perfectly mixed dual vocals. The album’s lead single "Bad Feeling" is a garage version of ‘60s pop romance about a bad sensation that "is not going away." "Misery" has an interesting, different structure ending with an eerie nursery rhyme, that has a nostalgic Celtic flavour. The album closes with the beautiful "Come Over Me", the longest song on the record, where Clifford sings, "Crimson and clover, I’ll touch your shoulder" over a crescendo of furiously strummed guitar.
Veronica Falls’ debut album is thirty-seven minutes of solid sweet pop, spooky harmonies and catchy choruses that will stick into your head for days. Definitely a promising start.
MP3 Stream: "Found Love In a Graveyard"