This is the seventh Violet Indiana release that
i have reviewed for EvilSponge (it might, in fact, be their
seventh overall release as well -- i think i have them all,
although i might be missing one somewhere), but it is only the
second full length album in that list. Robin
Guthrie, the guru behind Violet Indiana, apparently prefers
to work in shorter increments. I find this interesting in that
albums are currently the norm in the music world whereas EPs
and singles are somewhat rarer. Of course, when has Guthrie
ever pandered to the mainstream?
For their second full length album, Violet Indiana continue
exploring the sounds that they have mapped out previously, and
the band turns in a remarkable effort. This is a well-crafted
album of light pop music, and there are some really great tunes
here. New Girl soars under vocalist Siobhan de Mare's
voice. Listening to the lyrics, i wonder if this song is her
response to criticism that she is no Liz Fraser, as she sings,
"But i'm his new girl." It's a powerful tune. And of course,
the single Beyond
is a great pop song with awesome Guthrie guitarwork. Both
of these songs are catchy.
Additionally, there are a few songs that play with the usual
Violet Indiana voice and guitars framework. Specifically, Quelque
Jour features a strong piano motif accompanied by brushed
drumming. The overall tone is somewhat uneasy, and yet, of all
the songs on this album, this strikes me as the one most likely
to be featured in an Austin Powers film. That is, this song
has a real 60's lounge feel to it. Uneasy, but loungey.
You features some of the strongest bass riffage ever featured in a Violet Indiana tune, combined with some light static on the drums that make it seem almost IDM-ish. Not bad at all. I for one would love to see Guthrie and De Mare experiment with more electronica sounds. Perhaps this is a hint as to what is to come?
Finally, the album closes with a typical Guthrie end track. It's called Close the World and, following his preferred format, starts almost ambiently, then swells to a loudness caused by layers and layers of instrumentation being added. It builds to a very nice frenzy, and is well done.
Otherwise, well, there are 10 tracks total in the 40 minutes of the album. None of them are bad per se, but the ones i didn't mention above didn't stand out to me, really. That is, they are typical Violet Indiana songs, which is expected, but still they don't stand out from the crowd. Overall, though, i think that this album moves at a slower pace than earlier Violet Indiana releases. It is a contented pace, not at all hurried, but it still seems slower than some of their earlier work.
One word of warning, it took me a few listens to really get into Russian
Doll. Not to say that i hated it when i first heard
it, but rather that as i listened to it more and more i grew
to appreciate and admire the subtle sonic texturings that Guthrie
is doing here. And i think that subtlety is the big difference
between Violet Indiana and Cocteau Twins. With Cocteau
Twins, Guthrie was doing all sorts of things with layering
sounds that hadn't been done before, and sometimes it seemed
a bit much. With Violet Indiana, he is still doing those same
things, only far more subtly. I think that, of all of the Violet
Indiana releases, this is a good one for a Cocteau Twins fan
to pick up first as an entry into the Violet Indiana sound.
And my recommendation is to listen to it on headphones those
first few times, and you will appreciate the subtle Guthrieness
of the album.
Overall, this is a strong album. Violet Indiana continue to
make lovely music. I even think that this is a fuller realized
example of the sound they are shooting for than Roulette