There was a time when Echo & the Bunnymen was the greatest rock band in the world*. I suspect we are past that era, or that if we are, it is time to let go of that era, move on. Nostalgia is trap that snares us, binds us from progress, but just like a dog, we start wagging our tails when it presents its leash. So if the mere mention of Echo & the Bunnymen excited you to agitation, I happily offer up The Veils in your bowl.
Singer Finn Andrews, son of XTC keyboardist Barry Andrews, has that same hesitant croon that Ian McCullough had (or maybe still has, I kinda stopped paying attention after a while); willing to soar just high enough to still stay in sight, ready to whisper when the mood calls for it, and it is between these two stances he vacillates on Sun Gongs. "Sit Down By the Fire" is positively stirring, building like a semi-gospel sandstorm until becoming impossibly huge and then suddenly dissipating. "The Letter" is classic melodic melancholy - a sweet guitar twinkle over a swooning miasma and breathless moaning "Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye..."
Where this thing really takes off is the fevered recitations in "Killed By The Boom"; it almost made me dig out my Waterboys records, but I wanted to see where Andrews was going with all this. Were we to have a side two anymore, it would contain the Veils' softer side: the romantic crooning in "It Hurts Deep", the promenade stroller "The House She Lived in", and the epic-length "Larkspur" which wanders in the fog for the first four minutes and rages against the sun in the last. It's an album of peaks and valleys striped with wild trails of ego, footpaths into the dark woods, sun-dappled glens in which to loll. It's the kind of record that would have landed in my lap in my youth and I would have committed it to memory so that when some codger like myself comes around yammering about nostalgia, this is what I would be nostalgic for.
Listen to MySpace.
*actually, at that time, the Chameleons UK was the greatest band in the world, with their song "Nostalgia" offering up the title of this post, but no body remembers the Chameleons, and the Veils sound more like Echo & the Bunnymen anyway.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com