Text: Florian Baudouin
It has been two years since their first studio album. After “Looking For Faces”, The Vices released “Unknown Affairs”. The band from Groningen in the north of the Netherlands has become a must in the Dutch music landscape. In the meantime, they’ve been opening shows, as in the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, playing festivals such as Eurosonic-Noorderslag, touring Europe, playing in the US and hitting some national radio stations. Needless to say, this second album was eagerly awaited. As for us, we were watching the situation with interest but with a detached eye because we hadn’t been watching them as closely as before they started to break through. The good thing is that we can only be pleasantly surprised! So what does this album have in store for us?
Well, actually it’s not bad! The album starts off with “Strange Again” and its guitars with electronic effects, almost spoken verses which gives a very exciting rhythmic effect, catchy synthesizers and chorus… This track reminds us of the rock bands of the 2000s like The Strokes. Even if none of the other tracks will be as fast and punchy as “Strange Again”, the whole album manages to find a perfect balance between rocking tracks and soaring ballads. Among these, we can mention “Fooled Away”, a touching acoustic track, whose orchestral parts directly remind of Arcade Fire, or “Tomorrow I’ll Be”, a piano-vocal track, which is used as a pre-conclusion to the album, before the instumental outro “The Spell That Made A Dolphin”, with its Hispanic guitar melodies, concluding the album on a fade out with some backing vocals. The rhythmic instruments (that is, bass and drums) also play a big part in making the songs catchy: for example, the parts combining only these two instruments on “Lay Down, Stay Down” and “I Had a Name”, which inevitably make you shake your head. “I Had a Name” and “Never Had To Know” are two of the highlights of the album, with the repetitive and heady side of one and the super rhythmic way of chanting the chorus of the other.
This band has an undeniable talent for catchy melodies anyway and yes, this album is a success. We’ll see now, where it will take them and what they can accomplish next. We just wish they would explore the faster and heavier side of “Strange Again”… Maybe on the next album?