Brooklyn’s Violens was formed in 2007 by Jorge Elbrecht (a producer, multi-instrumentalist and founding member of the art company Lansing-Dreiden). The band eludes classification, blending percussive guitar work and silky harmonies with a wash of ’90s sonic pop via artists like Pale Saints, Cocteau Twins and McCarthy. Their 2010 self- recorded debut album Amoral is best understood as digital collage; a dark, guitar-and-synth-pop voyage of melodic and rhythmic collision. Violens’ sophomore effort True shifts course toward a more subtle and desaturated sonic landscape. The writing process began while traveling together on tour, and showcases a more collaborative effort.
Band members Iddo Arad (backing vocals, synths, guitar) and Myles Matheny (backing vocals bass, guitar) had a much larger influence on the songwriting and the album’s sonic direction. Framed by Will Berman’s distinctive drumming, True shows the band interacting and reflecting in ways both promising and exciting. The album’s first single, “Totally True,” sports a stone-washed, semi-improvised feel, celebrating bands like The Chameleons and Martin Newell’s Cleaners From Venus. Elsewhere, “Unfolding Black Wings” (the band’s aural approximation of a Goya etching) nods to Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth and Thinking Fellers Union Local 282. While the song’s lyrics reflect upon a sort of unimaginable winged beast, the music conveys its attack with a forward-marching rhythm as unorthodox guitar tunings provide manic chord changes and blistering single-note melodies. “When to Let Go” delivers a classic mélange of guitar pop (not unlike Sonic Flower Groove-era Primal Scream) and ’60s harmony groups (Zombies, Beach Boys, The Millennium), while “Watch the Streams” features ’60s ghost organs and a Brill Building pop beat that coalesces with stacked vocal harmonies.
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