Friday, July 25, 2008

Suntanning in the Nuclear Fallout: The Very Sexuals' Post-Apocalyptic Love

I came across the Netherlands' The Very Sexuals via The Walrus, and the fact this blog threw in the words Cocteau Twins and Mazzy Star when describing their sound made me stop to check them out. Also, the fact the band have made their debut album, Post-Apocalyptic Love, available for free on their Web site makes the life of an amateur reviewer a lot easier. Having listened to the album, I don't think it's quite up to Cocteau Twins stratospheric standards, but I do hear hints of New Pornographer-type shimmery pop harmonies and shambolic beats, youthful excitement and vocals similar to Ash, and some spaced-out melodies à la Dandy Warhols. Consisting of Joep van Son, Pien Feith (who also does her own music - worth checking out), Niels Philipsen, Cox Dieben, and Rob Bours, The Very Sexuals espouse a strangely positive view of a post-apocalyptic world:

It's 2008 and the apocalypse didn't wait for you
It did not wait for you or for me, it waited for nobody
Only a few could escape the fire
And they don't know why they were so lucky
Maybe it's because they still had a message to convey
Maybe they are functioning as prey
Or maybe it's because they are

I'm still not quite sure where the sex is fitting in, just as I'm not so sure the band name is the most appropriate for the type of music they make, but I definitely feel a life-force pumping throughout the record. While sex may be part of this band's idea of recovery and dealing with post-traumatic stress, the music itself reflects a generally more twee atmosphere rather than sweaty and seedy.

The album opens with the psychedelic WWIII Rocketeer, which features fey male vocals from van Son until the lilting, jazzy female voice of Feith joins in, setting up a brilliant vocal pairing. Second track, Carla, is one of my favourites with its jubilant, explosive sound like some of Puressence's latest songs. The guitars jangle and chime beneath sunny vocal harmonies, a soothing balm for a diaster-ridden world. Bowie Eyes announces itself with squeals of feedback and fuzzed-out vocals as it bounces around like postmodern surfers on a beach of the ash from incinerated civilization while Anti-Valentine has a rather retro Phil Spectorish feeling to it and child-like crooning vocals - like Raveonettes without all the shoegazey feedback. Romping along like children taking pleasure in kicking over sandcastles, Wrecked This Century feels like one of those irrepressible youth anthems where the best the new generation can do is rip everything up and start again while they cheekily sing: "Give me the year 2000 and I'll make it bleed." While the melody for the next track, Billy Idol Lookalike Contest, isn't as memorable as some of the other tracks, its narrative is quirky and random enough for me: "We met on the evening of the Billy Idol Lookalike Contest/You look so very pretty/And hey, you look exactly like him."

Can You Promise Me the Sky Won't Fall On Us has heavier, dirtier electronic beats to it and Feith's vocals resemble a more aggressive Feist; only here does the possibility of an ominous post-apocalypse surface like a primordial weed in a field of radioactive heliotropes. While this song does stand out against the breezier fare of the rest of the record, I actually think it's one of my favourites. Final track, Finn, is a puffy cloud of a song with simple guitar and airy voices, finishing the whole album off with the line "And the sun dies out." But somehow, it still leaves you thinking everything will be okay. Also, it features the quite brilliant line of "boy meets girl and girl steals his potential to be cruel."

Overall, Post-Apocalyptic Love is a great pop record for summer listening - if this is what the end of the world sounds like, I think we'll all survive just fine. So while I may not have gotten a new Cocteau Twins, nor a new Mazzy Star, I did get a fantastic soundtrack for weathering the apocalypse. Just pass the SPF 5000.

The Very Sexuals' MySpace:
Pien Feith's MySpace:

Carla - The Very Sexuals

Can You Promise Me The Sky Won't Fall On Us - The Very Sexuals

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