The Love / The Lust

Written by: TL on 22/09/2014 18:00:26

With their debut EP "The Brightside" from a few years ago, the British post-hardcore sextet Violet made a significant blip on my radar, prompting me to look forward to their first full length, although not without some anxiety, stemming from the fact that the band had to find a substitute for their clean singer after "The Brightside"'s release. The band interested me in the first place because while plenty of post-hardcore bands have mixed screamed and clean vocals by now, the prevailing trend in recent years is to do so with a cheeky artistic distance regardless of the subject matter, yet Violet have seemed intent on doing away with this distance, replacing metalcore's cookie monster growling and breakdowns with the raw, heart-on-sleeve screaming of 'wavecore' bands like Touché Amoré or Pianos Become The Teeth, and going all out with the sentimentality in the dreamy r&b parts that make up the band's more melodic side.

Come the recent arrival of the anticipated full length "The Love / The Lust" however, it is clear already upon first listen, that the band's promise has not been realised as fully as one could have hoped. Far from it in fact, because while the guys show a great grasp of arranging their harsh and melodious parts dynamically, the mix and particularly the clean vocals of the band's new singer Charlie Bass leave a lot to be desired. The generous sprinklings of chiming keys for instance, do well at lending the sound a romantic atmosphere, yet often blur out the guitar chords in the songs' cores, making those sound oddly toothless, which leaves the harrowing screamed vocal stand alone frequently, in the effort to substantiate the punchier end of the sound.

Meanwhile it's clear that the melodic vocals have been imagined a good deal more capable than the performance Bass has managed to put on record. To the band's credit the singing isn't drowned in layers of production tricks, but as Bass goes for an r&b type style much like stars of the genre like Tyler Carter or Jonny Craig, his shortcomings become impossible to miss. Particularly the parts where he tries to do soft and airy lines, his tones are nasal and whiny to the point where it grates on the ear, and he sounds less than comfortable when nearing falsetto range. Fortunately there's hope to be heard in the lines he belts with more power, but overall his performance is fifty-fifty as best, and as a singer you can't be satisfied with an on record performance that also gives the listener at least one moment to cringe over for each time you manage to do something impressive.

Despite struggling with issues that demand description in such detail however, I can't call "The Love / The Lust" a terrible record, because the potential in the underlying ambition and the way the songs have been composed is clearly noticeable if you're able to listen past the troublesome execution. A song like "Car Rides And The Passenger Side" has some great hooks, and the overall changes in rhythm coming from both instruments and vocals continually help to highlight the persistently vivid melodies. "Her" has a pretty cool climax as well, and single choice "The Lust" isn't bad either, featuring one of Bass's better moments toward the end. You actually have a lingering feeling similar to the one brought about by early records from the likes of Emarosa and Jamie's Elsewhere, where you feel like the music is cool, but could be so much better once the vocalist gets some more training and breaks some bad habits. Regretably, such exciting feelings come hand in hand with impatient frustrations on "The Love / The Lust", as you're tempted to complain over why oh why the band couldn't just skip ahead to being more fully developed already. Time and training is still needed though, and perhaps a bigger investment when it comes to arranging the next recording session.


Download: Car Rides And The Passenger Side, The Lust, Her, ...As Children
For The Fans Of: Jamie's Elsewhere, Emarosa, Issues, Elenora, Outline In Color

Release date 15.09.2014
Small Town Records

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