The poet and painter William Blake once said, “Exuberance is beauty.” And exuberance is what explodes from your speakers when you first hear the opening cut of Time Stays, We Go, the fourth album by The Veils.
Like Blake, The Veils hail from London, and said opening track, “Through the Deep, Dark Wood,” is an infectious and melodic blast of poppy guitar and keyboard rock. Singer and bandleader Finn Andrews’ vocals soar over the propulsive chord progression with strength and verve.
But the word “verve” brings up a problem that will always plague bands like The Veils. How do they differentiate themselves from Brit Pop bands like The Verve and their contemporaries (Oasis, Blur, Suede, Pulp, etc.)?
The answer to the anxiety of influence of Brit Pop lies in two simple facts. First, enough time has passed since the 1990s for that era’s bands to become templates for today’s bands. Think about it: the same number of years – twenty, to be exact – had passed between the released of Suede’s self-titled debut album in 1993 and the release of one of that album’s greatest influences, David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane. The same twenty or so years separate The Veils from the best releases of Suede and the other great Brit Pop bands mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Second, the bands of the Brit Pop movement themselves wouldn’t have existed without The Beatles, The Who, The Kinks, early Pink Floyd, The Jam, David Bowie, The Sex Pistols . . . this list could go on forever.
So the real question is, Can The Veils – whose confident sounds demonstrate that they’ve overcome any Brit Pop anxiety – make British guitar rock sound new in 2013, just like the bands mentioned in the previous paragraph made reinvented it in the 1990s?
As Time Stays, We Go plays out, The Veils present their answer to this question. They create a brew of influences that come from various bands and eras of British and – we can’t forget U2 – Irish rock. Andrews’ deep voice can contain the drama of Bono’s and Roger Daltrey’s (hear “Candy Apple Red” – which, incidentally, doesn’t sound like anything on Hüsker Dü’s Candy Apple Grey LP), the gravelly cool of Richard Ashcroft’s (hear “The Pearl”), and the music-hall playfulness of Hunky Dory-era Bowie’s (hear “Turn From the Rain”).
But, the thing is, Andrews’ amalgamative powers make him sound totally fresh.
The music follows suit. On the previously mentioned “Candy Apple Red,” Daniel Raishbrook’s guitar work bears traces of The Edge, Robert Smith, and all the dream pop artists they inspired, but it has an emotive vibe that places you firmly in the Louisiana swamps. Raishbrook is more than just this song: “Dancing with the Tornado” continues where “Candy Apple Red” leaves off, and Raishbrook explores Jimmy Page’s light-and-shade dynamic with a cool riff that Page himself would never have come up with but would have been proud of.
Keyboardist Uberto Rapisardi gets a chance to shine on “Another Night on Earth.” His piano – listen to Paul McCartney’s “Penny Lane,” and you’ll get the idea – provides the basis for the most Beatle-esque track on the record. The band provides excellent Fab Four-influenced harmonies, with bassist Sophia Burns high in the mix.
But The Veils don’t attempt to duplicate The Beatles; rather, they incorporate their sound into a different sonic framework in which the separation of the instruments and voices allows you to see the way that they work together as a band. In short, McCartney’s personality (and, it must be said, devotion to Brian Wilson) comes to the fore so much on “Penny Lane” that you know it’s his song. The live feel of “Another Night on Earth,” on the other hand, convinces you that The Veils aren’t just a vehicle for Andrews but a band that works together.
It’s important to note – even though most people don’t like to admit it – that The Beatles themselves were an amalgamation of influences. Would they have existed without Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, and Chuck Berry? What about Paul’s interest in Brian Wilson, John Lennon’s adoration of Bob Dylan, and George Harrison’s love for Ravi Shankar?
The Veils, of course, aren’t The Beatles. But they operate by using an aesthetic quite similar to theirs – and this aesthetic similarly affects the listener. When you listen to The Beatles, you forget about the influences and focus on the great music. The same thing happens when you listen to The Veils and their latest album, Time Stays, We Go.