Acclaimed London-based indie poppers Veronica Falls return with triumphant new LP that’s sure to rank among 2013’s finest releases.
Carrie Quartly hails it as a breakthrough album for the band.
Veronica Falls’ generally well-received debut identified them as strong songwriters with a penchant for reverbed jangle in the C86 tradition, with comparisons being comfortably made with The Pastels, The Shop Assistants, and Black Tambourine. It also revealed their affinity towards dismal subject matter, featuring songs about the infamous South Downs suicide spot (“Beachy Head”) and liaisons in the cemetery (“Found Love In a Graveyard”).
Make no mistake, though, Veronica Falls are not a band of humourless, navel-gazing mopes, and they effortlessly balance sombre themes with surprisingly bright and wistful pop arrangements – lots of tambourine shakes, boy-girl harmonies and fizzy guitars.
I caught a free show by Veronica Falls in the oppressive humidity of New York’s South Street Seaport last June, and while I admired their first album, the songs from it seemed far less fluffy and had more propulsive punch live, with the brand new material being without a doubt the impressive highlight of the set.
Waiting For Something To Happen delivers on the promise shown that day. It’s thirteen songs continued evidence of the quartet’s gift for catchy guitar lines and flair for the dramatic, but with brighter, more concise and more memorable melodies.
With the prolific Rory Attwell behind the mixing desk (a producer becoming known for shaping the sounds of the most exciting recent indie bands, including S.C.U.M., Yuck, The Vaccines, Palma Violets, and Big Deal), Waiting For Something To Happen seems set to be Veronica Falls’ breakthrough album.
Opener “Tell Me” immediately reveals a more confident sound, with breezy harmonies and at times an almost bombastic shifting of intricate guitar flourishes, progressing to a “Marquee Moon” like Mixolydian scale ascent at the 2:20 mark.
Second track and lead single “Teenage” is probably the standout for me, singer Roxanne Clifford’s vocals are less deadpan, and while there is still the sweet twee pop feel, Clifford’s and James Hoare’s guitar playing is bolder and has more up-front urgency than any of their debut LP’s offerings. The lyrics are instilled with a charming, romantic naivete as Clifford purrs dreamily, “Driving late at night, I’ll let you listen to the music you like…”
“Broken Toy” maintains the sure-footed pop precision of the previous track, with more relationship-based lyrical pathos (“‘Cause you’re a broken toy it’s true, but I am broken, too”). “Shooting Star” reigns in the pace a bit, with a plodding, measured drum beat and sleepy dissonant guitar lines as Clifford yearns for a shooting star to “point me in the right direction.”
The title track is bright and assertive and wastes no time leaping in with shimmery, jangling guitar hooks and honey-coated boy-girl harmonies.
“My Heart Beats”, which was released as a single early on last year, is another obvious highlight. Perhaps more than any other track on the album, it shows off their new-found rhythmic power, a swaggering full-on pop assault with an insanely catchy chorus.
The goth-tinged dark stuff is still here (“Buried Alive”) but as always, Veronica Falls balance it with just the right hint of sweetness so it doesn’t drag things down.
Final track “Last Conversation” ends things on an optimistic note (“there’s a hope for me”), and sounds like something The Pale Saints might have written for The Comforts of Madness.
Where their first album was accomplished enough to put Veronica Falls on the radar as a band to watch, Waiting For Something To Happen sees them exploding into the consciousness of serious music fans everywhere, with a more resonant fierceness, tenacity and gutsiness to their style overall, and despite the growing pains alluded to in the lyrics and song themes, it’s clear delivering an excellent (and dramatically forward leaping) sophomore album was not much of a trial for them.
All words by Carrie Quartly, you can read more of her writing on the site here.