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- Juvenilia by The Verlaines
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Right then. If Captured Tracks isn’t already one of my favourite labels with a slew of re-issues from bands I either used to worship or have since come to worship they now cement their reputation by turning their attention to one of the best New Zealand based Flying Nun groups of the mid 80’s, The odd, arch and classically-influenced Verlaines. Named after poet Paul Verlaine and not Tom Verlaine as could be assumed, the band created autumny sounding strummy pop with complicated chord changes, odd jazzy structures and unusual lyrical topics.
This album is a collection of their very earliest recordings and opens with ‘Death and The Maiden’ one of their signature songs. Immediately it is unusual amongst its peers in that its an awkward and experimental take on the shimmering New Zealand sound, not content with the three chord strums that were very effective for the likes of The Chills and The Clean. ‘Doomsday’ similarly bursts into life very quickly, hammering away at a frenetic pace veering this way and that. But lead Verlaine Graeme Downes could write straightforward songs too, ‘Joed Out’ is a lovely country lilt, the kind of thing Pavement later attempted with the likes of ‘Range Life’.
They had a knack with windswept songs that recall the rush of leaves from the trees in early autumn, ‘Baud To Tears’ is a fizzing andrenalin rush of oddball guitar chords and strange melodic choices yet its bursts through on sheer adrenalin and the listener has no choice to be swept along on the journey. I’m finding lost classics all over the place; ‘Burlesque’ has wheezing distorted organ and pounding guitars before lurching into a drunken melody which is as catchy as it is lopsided, ‘Pyromaniac’ is a kind of breezy New Zealand take on The Jam’s ‘Thats Entertainment’ with a melody that sounds like its climbing up a spiral staircase.
Its not always the best of music to play in the background at a party, its shifting textures tend to throw you for a loop and you miss the subtlety but trust me, get it on the stereo on a winters night and you’ll lose yourself in its dark, twisting charms. We also have their debut album ‘Hallelujah All the Way Home’ in stock and hopefully we’ll see further re-issues of their later albums to come.
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