By Veil Cassini
Veil Cassini's debut EP proves that the Devon quartet have a hundred and one ideas when it comes to music, and for some reason they try to cram every last one of them into two songs, 'Silhouette' and 'Box & Cox.'
Take almost any part of these musical mazes and you'll find enough off-kilter ideas to kit out five more songs. While being an idea-mill isn't a bad thing, there's just so much going on in these two tracks that you'll come away with no definite idea of what you've just listened to. This is a shame, as both songs are bursting with inspired moments that should really have been given more air-time. In particular, the squealing riffs in the bridge section of 'Silhouette' could have been the song's major hook, and 'Box & Cox' boasts thirty seconds of Biffy Clyro-esque vocals that ricochet off the song's springy riffs and prove that Veil Cassini have an ear for the unusual hook.
Inevitably, not every one of their ideas hits the mark. 'Box & Cox' features some mind-boggling sharp, pulsing riffs that sound like a clock striking the hour, of all things. If one idea should have been left on the cutting room floor, then this is it.
In their press release, Veil Cassini name Biffy Clyro as an influence and it's easy to see why. Both bands pen musical riddles, however Veil Cassini neglect to give their songs that one moment of skewed pop brilliance that will appease the initially bemused listener. Consequently, getting to know all the ins and outs of 'Silhouette' and 'Box & Cox' may feel too much like hard work.
However, just when you're ready to write Veil Cassini off as too much effort for too little reward, this EP delivers two perfectly coherent, instantly likeable rock songs: 'What Did You Want Me To Say' and 'Peek A Boo Who.'
The stop-start chords of 'What Did You...' hitch across a backdrop of sleazy riffs that gradually come to the forefront as the song progresses, and make for a hard-rocking second half. 'Peek A Boo Who' is much in the same vein. However, while 'What Did You...' underplays its lurking darkness, 'Peek A Boo Who' integrates it, with serrated riffs cutting through its heady musical fug and hazy vocals, giving its pleasant, summery swing some much-needed bite.
'Peek A Boo Who' does lose points for a half-hearted attempt at a stirring instrumental bridge section. If you're going to make a play for the heart-strings, you need to go all-out with the soaring melodies and big riffs. But, 'Peek A Boo Who' is content to putter along at a vaguely heartfelt level, without ever really going for that wrenching high.
However, these two songs do prove that Veil Cassini can do coherent and restrained - and can actually sound pretty good in the process. What Veil Cassini now need to find is a happy medium between accessibility and experimentation. They almost manage this with standout track and EP opener 'Wetfish.' The angular, stop-start chords, spring-heeled drums and catchy, pop-infused chorus give 'Wetfish' an overall identity, while bursts of shouty, group backing vocals and an undercurrent of sleazy riffs prevent it from sounding too safe.
This EP is, above all, the sound of a band grappling with their identity, but it displays more than enough originality and talent to make keeping an eye out for future Veil Cassini releases seem worthwhile. They may not always get it right, but at least they're not content with sounding exactly like everyone else.