It’s not surprising The Veils’ ‘Sun Gangs’ didn’t get much attention when it came out last month. It’s the third album from a band whose first was blustery Jeff Buckley-lite, and whose second, ‘Nux Vomica’, featured an ill-advised and unconvincing foray into jaunty, Coral-style guitar-pop. The Veils are neither new nor cool. There are no hipster points to be won by raving about them. I’d be astonished if ‘Sun Gangs’ sold more than a few hundred copies.
It didn’t get ignored exactly – Drowned In Sound gave it 8 out of 10. But few magazines gave it more than a cursory downpage review. Which is a shame, because it’s a quietly enthralling record, gripped by some of the opulent, tranquilised romance of ‘Dog Man Star’s weirder orchestral moments, and propelled by a jagged guitar sound that recalls the rancorous, evil jazz cooked up by Angelo Badalamenti for the druggy club scenes in ‘Twin Peaks’.
Frontman Finn Andrews possesses a startling vocal rasp, of a kind you’d be tempted to tag with a cliché like “whisky-ravaged” – only it’s not an affectation, it feels genuinely impassioned. As a lyricist, too, he has a filmic visual flair, and something of Nick Cave’s blazing-eyed, Pentecostal delivery. One song, ‘Killed By The Boom’, opens with the line: “He stared at the skyline with a look of avarice/And smelt the diesel of a passing train…”
There aren’t many songwriters around right now who could begin a song as arrestingly as that, or deliver it with such full-throated intensity. Perhaps it’s just me, and no-one else really cares – but, however pointless, it feels good to rescue an album you love, even in the tiniest way possible, from the howling abyss of indifference.
In that spirit, then, which recent albums are worthy of a second look? Consider this blog a home for music’s underdogs and unloved strays – those under-the-radar, unhip albums that no-one made a fuss of at the time but which you keep coming back to…