Friday, October 30, 2015

Album Review :: Victories At Sea - Everything Forever

Victories At Sea

Everything Forever

October 30 2015 (Static Caravan Records)


Words: Richard O’Hagan

If it is possible to have a ‘quietly awaited’ album, then this, the debut from Birmingham’s Victories At Sea, is almost certainly it. After establishing themselves as darlings of 6Music and XFM (now Radio X), this is a record with something to live up to.

Stylistically, VAS have that sort of poppy doom about them that made White Lies so popular a few years back, and it is hard not to like tracks such as ‘Future Gold’ and recent single ‘Bloom’ when they repeat that formula so well.

There’s also a sense that the record is mirroring the surroundings in which it was conceived. Staying true to their roots, the band wrote and rehearsed the songs in an abandoned steelworks and recorded in an old whistle factory, all within the Birmingham postcode. Buy the correct version of the album and you’ll even get a free, unique, postcard of the area.

The grey concrete fits nicely with the tone of the music, especially on the mechanical, factory beat of ‘Up’. What is a bit puzzling, though, is that for a record so rooted in one place, the lyrics suggest that the band don’t like being there very much: ‘On Your Own’ talks about "leaving the city of dreams"; ‘Swim’ speaks of being "the people who lost our way", and has a repeated refrain of "disappointed". Yet at the same time this is a contradiction inherent to the album, with a longing for acceptance and a happy ending as the recording builds to a climax amid the pleas to "don’t let me down" on ‘Into the Fire’ and the almost orchestral ‘Sirens’.

Living up to the expectations is always a difficult thing to do, especially when those expectations have largely grown after you finished your work, but Victories At Sea just about manage it with this bleakly uplifting debut.

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