Thursday, 6 September 2012

Her Vanished Grace - Star-Crossed

Album review by KevW


If you're looking for a new favourite band then I'm afraid you won't find it here. Her Vanished Grace most definitely come with enough of a seismic sonic assault to stop you dead in your tracks, so in that respect they fit the bill. However, new favourite band? The truly amazing thing is that we soon discover this duo have been making music together since the late 1980s! Have we been missing something or are these guys the best band you've never heard of? In that time they've apparently taken in goth, new-wave, shoegaze and now describe their music with precision accuracy using the phrase "power dream pop". It's a perfect summation of the blend of sounds on what we think is something like their fifteenth album. Either the previous fourteen weren't up to much or some major A&R men haven't been doing their jobs properly.

When they kick off with the storming opening pair of 'Car Crash' and 'Fade Away', you shouldn't be thinking that they sound a bit like Curve, you should be treating them as contemporaries and maybe even an influence on Curve. I don't recall Curve being quite so good though. 'Bridge Of Sighs' tells you exactly what power dream pop sounds like: the luscious, misty haze that you're used to other bands creating, only recorded in a wind tunnel. They turn the wind tunnel production up for the storming 'Break Down'. An interval of sorts arrives with the short but sweet heavenly buzz of 'Midnight Sun'. Surely they can't keep this standard up for the second half of the album? The reverberating guitars and baggy beat that kick-off 'Turn It Over' tell you they're going to given their best shot. It's like Andrew Weatherall producing The Cocteau Twins.

If it's all sounding a little early 90s then that's because it is. This is broken by the mildly industrial electronic beat on 'Hungry', the first sign that maybe not quite everything they touch turns to gold. That said, it's still worth a silver, the same award its follow-up 'Star-Crossed' gets. You can hardly call it a blip but if the rest of the record has been soaring skyscrapers of tracks then these two are mere high-rise apartment blocks. The more contemplative ending provided by 'Dawning' and then 'Earth Stood Still' also impress without quite reaching the stratospheric heights the first six tracks ascend to. Although, you can't knock them, these would be highlights for most bands. 'Star-Crossed' is a hell of a record that's positively dripping with wow factor, in fact it may as well be bathing in the stuff. Guys, where have you been all our life?






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