Violens - Amoral - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Violens - Amoral

by Rich Morris Rating:7 Release Date:2010-09-27

Going by all indications previous to this debut album, New York's Violens specialise in dark, melancholic but danceable 80-referencing indie which recalls New Order, Depeche Mode and Sisters of Mercy. So it's a bit of a surprise that the first two tracks on Amoral sound so positively light-hearted. 'The Dawn of Your Happiness' begins which a funky slap bassline which could have come from a Seinfeld episode. With its ringing, plangent guitar chords, jaunty rhythm and wry but downcast vocals from singer Jorge Elbrecht, it bears the unmistakeable influence of the more florid end of 80s indie pop, such as Orange Juice, Haircut 100 and The Smiths. Second track 'Full Collision' is, if anything, even more indebted to these bands, although it ends on a spiky note with an extended burst of atonal noise. That aside, both songs are real pop gems.

Recent single 'Acid Reign' is more typical of Violens' sound. Driving and powerful at the same time as being angsty and introspective, it takes the wipe-clean dance pop of New Order and adds a layer of 80s goth grit. It's one of the best singles released this year and still sounds fantastic after repeated listens. Such silky, luxuriant darkness is very much the baseline Amoral keeps returning to. 'Are You Still in the Illusion' features desolate sax straight out of Bowie's cocaine hell phase. This and following track 'It Couldn't Be Perceived' also score extra points by taking on and beating Hurts at their own game by referencing mid-80s processed mope-pop and actually being interesting.

In general, Amoral could do with being a little less smooth, a little rougher round the edges to reflect the emotional turmoil Elbrecht often sings about. However, this polished sound definitely provides some beautiful moments, none more so than penultimate track 'Trance-Like Turn', a shimmering, viscous heat haze of a song which reveals the depth of this band's talent. Violens also prove they're more than just another band of 80s copyists on songs such as the gently psychedelic 'Violent Sensation Descends' and 'Could You Stand to Know', although it has to be said these provide the album's less interesting moments.

Elsewhere we get the tough, bass-heavy funk of 'Until It's Unlit', the anthemic 'Another Strike Restrained' - tailor made for arenas - and epic closing track 'Generational Loss'. Overall, Amoral is a thoroughly accomplished album (especially since the band produced it themselves) which contains some genuinely great indie pop tracks, particularly on the first half. However, given the aura of dark romance the band projects and the majesty of 'Acid Reign', one could be forgiven for having expected something a little more complex, angular and maybe even a little dangerous from them.

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