Double Vanity is a weary, dark scuzzy garage rock record, with heavily reverb-laden vocals. Coming from Broncho, who wrote one of the most anthemic indie rock singles of 2014 in 'Class Historian', it's a bit jarring. Gone is the sweet accessibility and here is a complex, dark album with sophisticated nuances.
Despite the initial disappointment that they've not come out with another hit single set for a month's heavy rotation on 6Music, the record is a positive artistic step forward in many ways. It also shouldn't come as a surprise that they've departed so heavily from the sound of their previous effort. If you look back to their first album, it's in their nature to reinvent themselves.
On their debut LP, there's more affinity with Blink 182 than the Primavera Sound-friendly indie rock they ended up nailing on their second album. So, in terms of a new more atmospheric direction, in addition to their mainstay influence of Eighties punk, spending a decent amount of time with shoegaze records, and building intricate washy walls of sound with guitars and peppering it with reverb soaked vocals, isn't a bad way to go. Veering away from a more extroverted sound is also likely to gain them credit from listeners of heavier genres who may have been shy of their older indie rock sound.
The vocals and guitar doesn't seem to change much throughout the album. That homogeneity lends consistency, coming across somewhat like a great atmospheric live show. In order to achieve this, moments that would have been tempting to make into shiny singles have been repressed. For example, if 'Jenny Loves Janae' was released on the last album it would surely have been a wildly different beast. Now the pop element is obscured yet there in tasteful measure, like a sun set in a stormy sky.
Ensuring things are in a staunchly more alternative vein is the speed of the tunes. 'Speed Demon' is a rare moment of up-tempo garage punk in an otherwise spaced out affair. This more frenetic moment also draws some similarity to the current crop of US garage rock bands like Bass Drum Of Death and Ty Segall. But, the album doesn't feel derivative. Singer Ryan Lindsey's voice is distinctive even under the heavy echo. Moreover, the originality is kept as there's so much unique detail in the foggy cloud of distortion, and subtle melodies that weave in and out in a captivating fashion that My Bloody Valentine would be proud of.
It's not an album that will be remembered for its songs, but it's coherent enough as a whole to make up for that. In 2016, it's refreshing to indulge in a collection of songs that work best when they're heard all together.
7Cai Trefor's Score