Sunday, 28 August 2011

you should take a little time, to readjust the fabrics of your mind

Originally published on Popped Culture.

Bromley based act Van Susans are relatively unheard of in the mainstream, this being the band’s first release to date. However, having recently filled London venues Indigo 2 and Clapham Grand, they’re oozing with enthusiasm, clear passion for music, and talent—lots of it.

At a first glance, one would be tempted to brand Van Susans as ‘just your average indie band’. And in some respects, they do very much adhere to this image with love as a predominant lyrical theme, married with the occasional Billie Joe Armstrong vocal twang imitation. But in another sense, they completely break the mould. Sat here, twiddling my thumbs, I can’t quite put my finger on it but there is something inexplicably likeable about Van Susans.

The lyrics to the EP’s lead track Cha Cha Bang appear to attempt to challenge the decidedly soppy, poetic lines found in most modern songs. Instead, the chorus reads: “And I’m thinking maybe she might be the one, But this girl she’s crazy, it’s like dancing with a gun, And I can’t find the safety, my legs refuse to run”. The presence of the “bang” in the song’s title and the “gun” metaphor repeated throughout the song creates almost a semantic field of unconventional love, something which is definitely present through the EP as a whole.

The second and third songs on the EP, Bones and Get Up, Get Out, really demonstrate the vocal talent of lead singer Olly Andrews. His unmistakable British accent is both relatable and personable, filling me with warmth during my first listen. Not only this, but he has a certain quality to his voice—it’s indie, yes. But powerful, nonetheless.

Plans is my favourite and the penultimate track on the EP, the intro featuring a short solo from violinist Caroline Atkinson. This unconventional choice of instrument is yet another reason why I’m gradually falling in love with Van Susans’ music. To marry a violin—an instrument predominantly associated with the classical genre—with drums, a guitar and a bass, gives their music a whole other dynamic, proving that they’re not simply ‘just an indie-rock band’ but musicians, craftsmen and real artists. Furthermore, despite Andrews’ initial Kate Nash inspired talk-singing during the beginning of the song, he goes on to deliver yet another commendable vocal.

If I were to be particularly pernickety, I would say that some of the songs sound very similar and at times the distinction between one song and the next is somewhat blurred. It’s apparent, however, that the band are certainly settled in their specific niche and have a clear fan-base who appreciate and love their music.

Van Susans were a surprising listen for me. Picking up the CD case and looking at the front cover, I was expecting to listen to another 5-piece rock band pretending to be Green Day. Instead, I was met with a collection of songs with soul, musicians with talent and lyrics with passion—simple things, but rare to find in many artists today.

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