Glum shoegazers Veronica Falls return this week with their second album 'Waiting For Something To Happen'. Following on from their 2011 self-titled debut, the band has tweaked and refined their signature boy/girl harmonies and jangling guitar sound to deliver an album specializing exclusively in three-minute bubblegoth pop songs.
Opener 'Tell Me' is an agreeable and fair indication of what's to come, typified by its C86 guitar and layered backing vocals, but it's track two, 'Teenage', that in years to come will be revered as the quintessential Veronica Falls tune. It's a catchy tale of young love and misspent youth that has singer Roxanne Clifford carving her boyfriend's name on a cherry tree before giving him a lift home and not caring two hoots that she defaced public property.
As the album progresses it becomes enjoyable to indulge in a game of 'Spot the influence.' Obvious ones like The Pastels aside, there are more subtle comparisons to find than on the first record. 'Shooting Star' is a grungy little number musically, not unlike Nirvana's 'Heart Shaped Box', and 'If You Still Want Me' has a deliciously melodic chorus bassline that Peter Hook would be proud to have in his collection. Meanwhile, the general delivery of Ms. Clifford's vocal is more confident than before and reminiscent of female-led '90s guitar bands like Echobelly and Elastica.
Other highlights include up-tempo single 'My Heart Beats', an energetic love song with a shower-singing chorus delivered with the nonchalant attitude of a dad-hating, middle-class kid. And the sulking continues on 'Buried Alive' which is arguably the best song on the record, with its head-bopping rhythm and soothing, repetitive melody.
Before the album ends there's time for another couple of songs dealing with important adolescent issues such as breaking up with boys, being sick of all the people you know, and, well, breaking up with boys again.
Make no mistake: Veronica Falls have a formula. Although the trademark coed harmonies are not unpleasant on the ear, they're used so unsparingly that after a while they begin to lose their charm. There's also precious little sonic variation or tempo change throughout and, on an album of thirteen songs, surely there was room for one ballad or a stripped down acoustic number? 'Waiting.' is good enough to listen to from start through finish without skipping but, by the end, you could be forgiven for thinking you just listened to one really long song and not thirteen short ones.
The good news for Veronica Falls is this album is capable of finding relevance in a couple of places. Older listeners will almost certainly consume it through nostalgic ears, nodding along as they reminisce over indie nights spent at the Polytechnic drunkenly dancing to bands like Teenage Fanclub and The Wedding Present. Meanwhile, the iTunes generation will label it somewhere between the suburban surfer rock of bands like The Drums and the dreamy pop of The Dum Dum Girls.
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