Four years ago a close friend and I went to see a little known band called MGMT in Nottingham, England. The support act was a five piece that went by the name Violens. They had an EP out at the time which was rather raunchy and straight forward. I'm not sure what happened, because it took two years to release their debut album 'Amoral', in 2010. They never received a large sum of attention, which is why you may not have heard of Violens before. True then, is their second studio album.
Don't get confused, Violens are indie pop to the core. Psychedelia runs through their nerves, but indie pop ultimately is released when they play music. 'Totally True' is a lovely little three minute synthy tune with harmonic vocals, light reverb and an echo guitar riff which reminds me of Morrisey. 'Der Microarc' doesn't give me anything else to work with. Violens use structures well, layering vocals with the heavily effected guitars. It's the bass and drumming that fails to amuse me. The drumming is predominately dormant, silent and electronic. The bass here never stretches the imagination or strives in a different direction, it's just simply there.
'When To Let Go' is a dashing track. It's single material with an exciting crystal guitar riff. I'm almost certain I've heard this riff before, and the same progression, nonetheless When To Let Go is by far one of the best tracks on this album. It has a dance feel, it's funk and the vocals progress well on both the chorus and verses. This album is pretty standard when you think about it. Indie pop bands release albums every year, two years and I'm afraid Violens will fall into a wilderness of indie pop. Indie Pop does have it's genuine brilliance, mostly lyrical, however Violens fail to achieve a clear vocal. This is down to the lead singers quiet and soft voice. That plus the reverb effect. 'Sariza Spring' is an example of a vocal gone wrong. Now if you're My Bloody Valentine, then fine. I just don't understand why Violens don't have a clearer vocal on a track like this. The vocals sound dated, layered and un-clear.
We hear an improvement on 'Every Melting Degree'. If indie pop isn't your thing, then stay away. If you like the 80's synth pop movement, synthetic vocals and sweet sounds, this might just be your album. One things for sure, this Violens is a completely different band to the band I saw in 2008, not literally. This album is prettier than their previous releases. it's quieter at times, louder at others. 'Lavender Forces' is a good example of a louder Violens. This short drone piece isn't characteristic of Violens, but has the energy and presence to be passed off as a Violens track. It differs almost entirely to the next track 'Unfolding Black Wings'. I love speedy introductions, and this fast paced - turned slow - melodic track has one of the best structures on this album. The bass finally takes control on this track, with the guitars in full throttle. Without the reverb, delay and the layered vocals... This could be a punk track. Just like the follow up track 'All Night Low'. This time we have the same drumming as before, but with louder and more energetic guitars. The slowed down, break segments of this track are fantastic. These two tracks are definitely the highlights on True.
The short break of fast paced catchy tracks save this album in my opinion. 'Watch The Streams' fails to capture my attention. This is down to the the simplistic structure and annoying vocal. The same goes for 'Lucent Caries'. It's just a simple guitar riff looped, with a stash of ambient music. 'Through The Window' makes use of yet another loop. The track does become slightly predictable, but that's not my biggest gripe. The drumming is still pretty straight forward and so is the bass. I can see this track being played on a Friends-esque television show during a montage. The guitar riff has this forced nature. It's like one of those pre-recorded samples you find on Dance EJay.
Although True is an improvement over Amoral, it never surprises me. Certain albums have an element of surprise, every time you listen, you're surprised and you notice/hear something new. With True, you get what you're given, at face value. There's nothing hiding in the dark. The final track 'So Hard To See' has another layered vocal and just about every instrumental in the previous half an hour has been repeated for this final track. It may be because I'm a boring young bastard, but I just can't get into this music. It's something about the synth pop and indie pop genres that when crossed, become incredibly simplistic and frustrating.