I’m a cynical person by nature, so most happy music makes me skeptical. How can you possibly sing about everything being all sunshine and rainbows when there is so much trouble and strife in the world? By the same token, the older I get, the less interested I am in listening to music that simply wallows in misery. It seems like a waste to spend so much time on feeling bad. Veronica Falls ride the line between optimism and pessimism, making happy music with heavy hearts.
Veronica Falls are a co-ed foursome from Glasgow via London. The band consists of singers/guitarists Roxanne Clifford and James Hoare, bassist Marion Herbain, and drummer Patrick Doyle. Their self-titled debut collects several of the well-received singles they’ve released since forming in 2009, as well as new material.
The band mixes punk chords, sixties pop, and dark lyrics into a concoction that is gloomy and peppy at the same time. Album opener “Found Love In A Graveyard” is a nice summary of their sound. Elements of surf rock, garage rock, and Elizabethan folk songs combine into a melancholy jangle, the morbid lyrics contrasting with the gorgeous male and female vocals. “I’m broken-hearted/ Dearly departed,” they sing, mourning a lost love.
On songs like “Right Side of the Brain,” they recall Tiger Trap’s masterful take on feminine pop punk, but there is little twee about Veronica Falls. The competing male/female vocals are reminiscent of the Mamas and the Papas, although Roxanne Clifford sounds more like Lush’s Miki Berenyi than Michelle Phillips.
Despite the depressing nature of most of their lyrics, there is more joy than ennui in Veronica Falls’ music. They capture the delicious pain of young love. On the upbeat “Misery,” they sing “misery’s got a hold on me,” as if it were the best thing in the world. These juxtapositions between optimism and sadness, between punk and pop, and between male and female vocals are what make Veronica Falls such a strong act. From the surf punk of “Beach Head” to the pop shimmer of “The Box,” Veronica Falls is a wonderful bummer, guaranteed to make your worst moments bearable.