Cardiff’s own electro-rock extraordinaires The Vanities storm through with a full-length album of absolute anthems this season.
The retro tones and vocal stylings of the project unite beautifully with the nostalgic implications of its title, and from the opener Dropping a Bomb, we’re thrown into a world of melodic story-telling and passionate shifts to intensity and distortion alike.
Bringing equal parts electro-sound-play and organic rock to the scene, 2001 showcases the duo’s own influences as ranging from the synth-pop of the eighties to the grunge legends of the nineties.
The band have raised the roof on the local scene since their formation in, you guessed it, 2001, and despite a brief hiatus some years later, their name and their sound remain a staple for the indie fanatics.
Brilliant songwriting elevates this project consistently. Not just the vocal lines, but the riff work and structure of each piece. Love Is The News highlights this quality as an instant hit after the opener. Already the voice is familiar, as is the identity of the band – the way the music builds, these multiple layers of colour and energy and rhythm, these contemplative lyrics and timeless refrains. An early highlight, but there many to choose from – and there’s not a bad song on the album.
The Ballad of Orla Joan resounds boldly for its soaring drum-line and the softness of the verse after an explosive introduction. A personal favourite.
Other highlights include the cinematic embrace of Addicted, which sets the scene for matters of the heart and hypnotically satisfies that need for audio intoxication all at once. The sax-kissed This Ain’t Love is another, soulful and somewhat gritty in its relaying of short lines and the call and response arrangement.
With London, there’s a notable hint of Bowie – to the writing, the vocal meandering, the simple groove underneath. Perhaps one of the most memorable songs on the album. Then there’s the hustle and bustle of the title-track, which rightfully takes you through the haze of the years towards the simplicity of another era.
There’s also plenty of intrigue to the closing song Red Leaves, a piece that aptly lures you in for another run through of the entire collection; for conceptual clarity and for the sheer warmth of the music’s embrace.
Naturally a thing of pride for South Wales, and this album speaks volumes on behalf of their dedication and experience on the scene. A pleasure to escape into for a while.