Thursday, October 11, 2018

Live Review :: The Vryll Society :: The Exchange, Bristol - Oct 9 2018


The Vryll Society

The Exchange, Bristol

October 9 2018

Words/Pictures: Kieran O'Brien

In the digital age, it is all too common to see a band burst onto the UK music scene with a semi successful standalone single, before disappearing into oblivion, never to be seen or heard again. Liverpool’s ‘The Vryll Society’ are a band who have been able to break this mould, emerging in 2015 with the infectious ‘Deep Blue Skies’, before remaining in consciousness through putting in the hard graft touring their inventive psych pop sound. The band then hid away in their self-proclaimed ‘subterranean rehearsal space’ for over a year, before re-emerging with their triumphant debut album ‘Course Of The Satellite’ in August 2018. The five-piece are now embarking on a string of UK dates, and as they confidently take to the stage at The Exchange in Bristol they appear more than ready to demonstrate why their debut record has been so well received.

Opener ‘Shadow Of a Wave’ immediately showcases the band at their best. Bassist Lloyd Shearer and drummer Ben Robinson make up one of the most talented rhythm sections on the emergent UK scene today and they are on fine form here as the song grooves effortlessly. Psychedelic, swirling visuals compliment their sound perfectly; frontman Mike Ellis’ dreamy vocals float over an expansive and elaborate sound, the band reminiscent of a cosmic and more ambitious Dutch Uncles. As Robinson’s pounding snare drum greets the opening of ‘Glows and Spheres’ it is hard not to be impressed with the soundscape the band have created here. Infectious guitar hooks, intricate basslines and swirling melodies run side by side yet never sound cluttered or overfull – testament to the thought that has clearly gone in to every aspect of the band’s sound.

When a complex and dense sound is transferred from the studio, it is sometimes the case that something is lost intensity-wise, as the concentration required leaves little in the way of room for expressive performance. The Vryll Society have no such troubles, with Ellis sauntering across the stage like a space age Bobby Gillespie. Ellis’ charm is not limited to his posturing; his vocals breathe above the rest of the band and fill the room – again Ellis and the rest of his band are effortlessly impressive.

The Vryll Society also pull off the neat trick of showcasing a complex sound whilst remaining eminently accessible. ‘Tears We Cry’ is an excellent track, sounding almost like a psychedelic take on The Stranglers’ ‘Golden Brown’, and the chorus is sung back to the band enthusiastically by an appreciative Bristol crowd. ‘When The Air is Hot’ is similarly reminiscent of a band gone by, sounding like a funk-infused Stone Roses b-side, but still manages to remain fresh and exciting.

By the time we arrive at ‘Inner Life’, one of the melodic highlights of ‘Course of The Satellite’, both band and crowd are in full flow. Bodies move and sway to Reflektor-esque bass and guitar lines, with the dynamic between band members on stage looking effortless and enjoyable. The slower ‘Give In To Me’ follows, and aptly demonstrates the band are just as able to write reflective atmospheric numbers as psych-pop bangers. The closer from ‘Course Of The Satellite’ wouldn’t sound out of place on John Frusciante’s ‘The Empyrean’, demonstrating the wide array of sounds the five piece have been able to draw into their live set.

As the closing bars of ‘Deep Blue Skies’ are met with appreciative cheers, there is no doubt that headlining tours are where The Vryll Society now belong. The band have been on the radar for a number of years but there is a sense that they are only just getting started, and tonight’s set is a triumph for hard work, invention and imagination.

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