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  Violet Indiana  
  Bella Union  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:

Robin Guthrie must be one of those people who just hates doing nothing. His old band, Cocteau Twins, released 15 EP's and 9 LP's in a little over 15 years. That's a lot of output! And now we have the fourth release from Violet Indiana in a little over a year.

I must admit, though, that there is a certain value to Guthrie's constant work. With each release Violet Indiana have become more and more honed, more polished. Not that Choke, their first EP, was raw or unfocused. Rather, Guthrie continues to polish and perfect the sound. Special includes some of their best work to date in the form of four songs and one video.

The first track, Jailbird, starts off with a very nice riff on the bass and drums. Eventually Guthrie's guitar wanders in accompanied by the voice of Siobhan DeMare. It's a lite and dreamy little song. The bridge is interesting though -- it features a "chat" section, with DeMare talking as if she is breaking up with the listener. I think. Sometimes i find it hard to understand exactly what someone with a thick British accent is saying, and in this case with vocals layered behind the speech and the guitars and drums and bass ... Well, i'm not 100% sure what she is talking about. She sounds a little annoyed though.....

The next track, Poppy might be the most delicate Violet Indiana song yet, which is saying something for this band! DeMare's vocals are almost whispered, which in all honesty only makes her voice sound sexier (something i had not thought possible!). Her voice is backed up by Guthrie's barely strummed guitar and some light brushed drums. This is a very beautiful song.

Synths are added to the Violet Indiana sound on Sky as a nice counterpoint to Guthrie's guitars. This song features an insistent rhythm and is nice and catchy. It's a really good pop tune.

After that bit of catchyness, things get brought back down a notch with Chapter 3. This is a slowly paced dramatic song, with DeMare really giving it her all. The last minute of this tune is great -- Guthrie turns on the distortion and the drummer goes for it. A nice bit of noise and feedback to end the EP. Really nicely done

Now, in addition to the four songs, the CD for Special features a video for the song Poppy that you can play on your computer. It's a .mov -- quicktime format video.

I'm not really into computer video. I know some people who insist on having a DVD player in their computer, whereas i personally find no attraction in sitting in front of a machine watching moving images on a tiny monitor. I want my 21" TV if i am going to watch video!

Nonetheless, i watched this video in the interest of criticism. (And 'cause Brendan told me i had to.) So here are my thoughts: it's kinda dull. Don't get me wrong -- i really like the song, but the video is just Guthrie and DeMare standing around in a white room, their fashes washed out by overlighting, and the camera circling around them. There are lots of closeups of Guthrie playing a very nice looking Gretsch, and lots of shots of DeMare's noseless face (the nose being washed out by the overlighting).

I think that the video really adds nothing to the song. In fact, i find it detracts a little. I think that DeMare's voice is incredibly sexy, but watching her in the video, well, SHE is not as sexy as her voice implies. Not to say that she is some sort of hideous creature, but rather that she seems to look like a normal British woman, whereas just from her voice i would have thought she looked more like Uma Thurman or something.

Sigh. I just hate it when reality crushes my little illusions!

At any rate -- i think that Violet Indiana have turned in their best release to date. Four fine songs, and one video. At this rate, in another year or two Guthrie will have polished the band's sound so much that it will be inescapably beautiful.

Here here. Keep it up Mr. Guthrie.

Related Links:

The Choke EP, first release by Violet Indiana.
Violet Indiana's full-length LP, Roulette.


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