Album Review: Veronica Falls – ‘Veronica Falls’

Their influences might be all too familiar, but the spectre-loving twee team still make a good fist of it on their debut

Thus far, [a]Veronica Falls[/a] have been regarded with a degree of scepticism entirely befitting a band who were signed on the strength of a 10-minute-old Myspace page. Their members look like they’ve pouted on the covers of [a]Belle And Sebastian[/a] EPs, and their attempts to distance themselves from a C86 aesthetic can’t hide the debt their fey indie owes to it. Basically, if [a]Veronica Falls[/a] were a fashion accessory, they’d be a tatty Penguin Classics tote bag modelled after the first-edition jacket of an obscure 1930s novella called You Probably Won’t Have Heard Of This.

The irony is that you almost certainly have heard of the bands they take their cues from. They might even be a little overfamiliar: in 2011, there’s nothing particularly unique about riffing on the likes of the Shop Assistants, Beat Happening or The Pastels.

[a]Veronica Falls[/a], however, do display a natural affinity for it. This debut may be frozen in
a perpetual, sexless adolescence, but they’ve somehow made that seem charming rather than cloying, even as vocalist Roxanne Clifford swoons longingly at ghosts (‘Found Love In A Graveyard’) and sighs odes to a boy so childlike he’s probably still in buckled shoes (‘Stephen’). They shouldn’t be dismissed as mere wimps of whimsy, either: these songs are played with confidence, and only the album’s exquisite, wintry closer ‘Come On Over’ is allowed to breach the four-minute mark. In keeping with their insistence that the Velvets are actually a bigger influence than C86 – a bit like arguing chicken-or-egg with a mouthful of omelette – many are also morbid affairs; as on ‘Beachy Head’, a blushing hymn to the UK’s favourite suicide spot.

[a]Veronica Falls[/a] aren’t quite a love ’em or hate ’em proposition; they’re far too arch for that. But even if they’re a hard band to fall in love with, this record is ridiculously easy to admire.

Barry Nicolson