I've been waiting for a proper Van She album for what seems like forever. They released an EP a couple of years ago, which seemed also to take a fair bit of time to come out, especially since I had enjoyed the singles I had heard prior to the EP's release. It seems Van She's debut album V dropped at the beginning of August, but from what I can tell, it hasn't been made available for North America yet aside from imported copies. Along with Cut Copy, MSTRKRFT, The Presets, The Tough Alliance and Ladyhawke, Van She is yet another fantastic band on the Modular roster and I think that they and Cut Copy are my favourite Modular artists. The Australian electro outfit seemed to have a bit of an 80s post-punk/synthpop vibe on their self-titled EP with songs like Kelly, Mission, and Sex City, but V takes them into a slightly different vein. Overall, V feels lighter and even more laidback while giving me a sense of French atmosphere and influences, including those of Phoenix and Air.
The record's first track, Memory Man, retains some of the synthy sounds of the songs found on the earlier EP while the vocals take the song into a more mournful direction before cycling into the next song, Cat & the Eye, which is the first single released from V and is a hissing explosion of technicolour steam and psychedelic flourishes. The following track Changes, which has also been recently released as a single, takes the band in a less electro, but more mellow retro direction akin to Phoenix and gives me that distinct feeling of Parisian partying. Strangers is equally as mellow and has an anthemic chorus riding along a cascade of synths. It Could Be the Same veers off into a more twee-electro direction as its opening revs into a video game-like melody, but then turns into a more minimal rock song before heading into screaming high registers of guitars. The next couple of tracks, The Sea and Virgin Suicide, turn back into the dreamier, laidback tone presented in Changes and Strangers, and Virgin Suicide has one of the album's catchier indie-rock choruses. After the dark but brief electronic instrumental, Temps Mort, Talkin' blows in with driving, bouncy guitars, which feel like they're bumping up and down an underlay of electro elements as vocals flip between soaring highes and lower levels. Kelly, the only track to migrate from the EP to the debut LP, gets a more textured makeover, but still fits nicely in this newer context, allowing its fist-pumping 80s chorus to sit alongside the airy indie of the other tracks. So High is a soulful tune perfect for a morning comedown as it bops along to a shimmery little synth line and the Thomas Mars-like flourishes on the vocals. Concluding track, A Sharp Knife, is a subtle finish with its steady drumbeat taking a prominent position before the song explodes with the lovely higher countermelody over top of the lower primary vocal.
It was definitely worth the wait for Van She's full-length debut - it gives me that same slightly bohemian, café-dwelling, club-hopping-with-hipster-kids feeling I like to dream Paris would give me (despite the fact I didn't experience Paris that way the one and only time I visited there). Hopefully it won't take as long for Van She to release a second LP as it took for them to get their EP and debut album into the fans' hands and ears. Vive l'Australie.
Cat & the Eye - Van She
Changes - Van She
Virgin Suicide - Van She