by / May 7th, 2009 /

The Veils – Sun Gangs

 3/5 Rating

(Rough Trade)

The third album from London-based band The Veils sees the foursome continue where their sophomore release Nux Vomica left off. An arguably more ambitious outing, the latest record comprises of ten tracks which are at turns epic and instant, and at the same time ominous yet optimistic.

The Veils chose wisely by appointing the elegiac -Sit Down By The Fire’ as the opener here. It is a haunting track that showcases The Veils creativity and musical expertise. Frontman Finn Andrews displays a vocal range that perfectly complements the more melancholic sound The Veils strive for, as revealed on the more moving and sparse tracks like title track -Sun Gangs’ or -It Hits Deep’. Highly personal liturgies feature with glimpses of beauty that, although not always fully realised, are still present – the lamenting -Scarecrow’ is a prime example. -Larkspur’ is evocative in places, complete with howling vocals but sadly it falls quite flat as time runs on despite the atmospheric potential created and at over 8 minutes, feels unnecessary.

This is not to say that Sun Gangs is a moping record of bedsit anthems – -Killed by the Boom’ and -Three Sisters’ illustrate the band’s capabilities with more punchy numbers as both tracks have a frenetic pulse running through them. Meanwhile, the excellent -The Letter’ contrasts dark lyrics with a growing tempo to create a highly memorable standout song. As things draw to a close with the more optimistic -Begin Again’, the gamut of emotion and styles in the layered textures of Sun Gangs is complete. The final track is pared down and acts as a testament to what The Veils really can achieve when the pieces fall into place.

Sun Gangs is a brief and often schizophrenic tour of The Veils and their creative ambitions. Whether they have achieved their goal is debatable – the album is a mixed bag, occasionally striking gold with glimpses of melodrama and desolation in tracks like -Sit Down By The Fire’ and -The Letter’ and in other places the masterplan is less than complete (the forgettable -The House She Lived In’ is a case in point).

-Larkspur’ is an apt example as it feels more like a private experiment than an attempt to engage with the listener, which admittedly does detract from the experience of Sun Gangs. Although the intended sentiment is still there, a stronger sense of intimacy would have capitalised on the darkness of the record as a whole.

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