Look kids there's a new The Vaselines album. They recorded it in Glasgow at Mogwai’s Castle Of Doom studio recorded by Tony Doogan (Belle & Sebastian, Mogwai). Musical contributions come from the Glasgow mafia of Michael McGaughrin (1990s), Frank Macdonald (Teenage Fanclub), Stevie Jackson (Belle & Sebastian), Graeme Smillie (Olympic Swimmers), Paul Foley (Mandrake Shepherd) and Scott Patterson (Sons & Daughters).
Again its the work of co-conspirators Eugene Kelly & Frances McKee who sound ever youthful and quick listen to 'One Lost Year' reveals a track that could bre described as "catchy as fuck".
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- V For Vaselines by The Vaselines
The Vaselines occupy a strange little space in twee pop. They aren't to be sufferred, nor endured; you don't have to creak past pantomimes and the standard cringe factor for triumphant melodic nuggets. Their music is more driven than theatrical, the jangling guitars thrusting forwards with a punk rock deliverance that spits out their K Records peers. Some of the obvious cheap tactics are still employed -- the conventional boy/girl vocal exchanges and harmonies are worn proudly, the lyrics are undeniably cutesy and there's the occasional keyboard whirring through the ether, as if love songs are for astronauts.
Ultimately, though, this is no frills twee pop; the constant crush of guitars is where the Vaselines get down, and on 'V For Vaselines', their tunes sound raw, occasionally even fierce. On "Inky Lies", they taunt their listener with thrummed piano chords and gang chants of "Hey!" that recall Titus Andronicus as much as anything in the indie pop spectrum -- where their contemporaries might float and coo through such a song, the Vaselines bring it a daunting physicality, wanting you to hear their leather-jacket aggressions upfront. "High Tide Low Tide", too, feels strangely confrontational, like it's been structured around a 'Rocket To Russia' listening session.
That's as good a reference point for indie pop as any, though: with its murky, dejected tunes, 'V For Vaselines' sounds like the Fiery Furnaces with absolutely zero whimsy. Sometimes, that's a good thing.
7/10 Penrith Steve 13th October 2014
Everyone knows The Vaselines, right? They did “Molly’s Lips”, “Son of a Gun” and “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam” which were all covered by Nirvana. That’s that sorted. By the time Nirvana we’re covering them, Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee had gone their separate ways. Kelly went on to front Eugenius (Who had been forced to change their name from Captain America by Marvel Comics prior to release of their brilliant and underrated “Oomalalama” LP). Another Eugenius LP and a solo album from Kelly followed but over the next ten years or so. The Vaselines decided to reform in 2006 with their first LP in 20 years, “Sex with an X” coming in 2010.
Now we have “V for Vaselines”, a fab slice of indie-pop from the less twee end of the scale. The album opens with “High Tide Low Tide”, which is exactly what you’re paying your money for: an unashamedly melodic, three chords and the truth, sing-a-long pop song complete with baa-baa-ba-ba-bas. “The Lonely LP” is another pleasing pop blast, sung by McKee. Two tracks in, and things are going well. “Inky Lies” is not quite up to the standard of the rest, but there’s time for it to grow. “Crazy Lady” sets us back on track and by now there’s an increasing feeling of a melody-induced tingle-factor growing in me. “Single Spies” is the album’s first ballad – a break-up song, but there’s no compromise on melody here, a definite highlight of the album.
Nothing on Side Two reaches the heights of a truly excellent first half. “One Lost Year” is decent and “Number One Crush” okay, “Earth Is Speeding”, is better. “False Heaven” has a lovely melody to the verse but the chorus doesn’t deliver as I know The Vaselines can. The highlight here is closing track “Last Half Hour”, which, in the main has a Jesus and Mary Chain thing going on but with a more melodically uplifting chorus.
A good album, not the best of Caledonian guitar pop, but the sub-genre I may just have invented does have some top-notch bands (Teenage Fanclub, for one!). I imagine it’s the kind of thing you either like or don’t like. I suggest that fans of Editors, Elbow and their ilk have a reality check and dip their toe in but then again, they don’t really deserve it.
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