It has often been said about excellent band The Veils that it´s surprising they haven´t hit the big time and gained mainstream success. I don´t know about that. If mega-stardom is what they desire, I wish with all my heart they will get it. But then again, I don´t know about that either.
Fronted by Finn Andrews, the son of Barry Andrews of XTC and Shriekback fame (not that this matters the least, but now it has been said and we can move on), the band has existed in different forms since 2001. Andrews grew up dividing his time between his father in London and his mother in New Zealand, moving to London as a mere 16-year old to pursue a career in music.
I discovered this truly great band with the release of their first album “The Runaway Found” in 2004.
The songs are in many ways fairly traditional guitar-based rock, but performed by a singer with a tone and style definitely his own. Well-crafted and varied songs, with a very intense and passionate delivery. Even though the years have passed, I still like this album very much, with it´s span from the guitar-fuelled intensity of “More heat than light” to the melodic beauty of “The valleys of New Orleans”. Fast or slow, calm or chaotic – either way still driven by the both intense and sensitive voice of Finn Andrews. His singing being somewhat idiosyncratic it´s in many ways an acquired taste and definitely not for everybody.
After releasing their debut album, the band pretty much disintegrated and a new one formed around the nucleus of Andrews. The second album “Nux Vomica” released in 2006 is harder, but still with a very melodic edge.
Andrews experiments more with his singing, most obvious in songs like “Jesus for the jugular”. Despite this, wonderful moments of beauty like “Under the folding branches” coexists with the more rowdy material. A very energetic album that I remember as one of my favourites that year. Dark and menacing at times, but not without time for some release in the form of a catchy pop melody.
After intense touring new material was recorded in London, and released as “Sun Gangs” 2009.
Although generally met with favourable reviews, personally I remember this as their weakest album. It might be that I haven´t played it enough, and future listens might make me change my mind. I´m one of those people who often listens through an artists whole production as part of evaluating their latest album, so we´ll see.
I must confess that I was less than impressed after the first listen to their latest offering, “Time stays, we go”, relaeased in April 2013 (good title, by the way).
The immediate feeling was of something more polished than earlier works, and as such a little boring. I was missing the melodical intensity of the debut and the drama and experimentation of “Nux Vomica”. However, after listening again with a little bit more concentration things began to fall in place. This is a really, really good album and will probably be amongst the top ten this year. Here we have everything that the Veils are about. Both singing and song-writing better than ever. It might be argued that Andrews is a little bit more restrained than we are used to, but the tension is still there and can erupt when you least expect it to. Listen to “Dancing with the tornado” and you will know what I mean. The instrumentation is lush and precise, the delivery filled with melodrama and the ever present intensity. Enough complexity in arrangements to keep your interest up, but never coming in the way of the songs. And what songs they are. Without a doubt this is their most consistently great collection of songs. The sound is in many ways cleaner than on previous albums, but still unlike anything else you might hear. Those who don´t already know this great band should give them a try. If you enjoy your spaghetti al dente this might actually be something for you. That said – set for world domination? I don´t know about that.