Vulkano - Live Wild Die Free

by Rich Morris Rating:5 Release Date:2014-06-20

Those Dancing Days seemed to have so much promise when they appeared in 2008. Barely out of school, the all-girl band had a sound which was at once DIY and fragile, yet rich and wise beyond their years. It felt like the aesthetics of The Raincoats and prime-era Blondie has somehow merged. It was shame that they split after only two albums.

From that band’s ashes have emerged Vulkano, formed by Lisa Pyk-Wirstrom and Cissi Efraimsson, who plough much the same furrow on this album, but less artfully. Where TDD displayed such sophisticated pop nous on the likes of ‘Hitten’, Vulkano are both less polished and cutesier.

In fact, they sound like no one so much as very early Altered Images, before the group shed their post-punk chrysalis. The Cure-style pattering drums and snaky basslines are there (‘Vision Trick’, with its repeated refrain of “I know it’s out there” over ghostly keyboard, definitely sounds like they’ve had ‘A Forest’ on repeat), while the often squeaky vocals are very Clare Grogan.

However, despite some nice moments like the Trash Kit-esque ‘Trolls’ and the Bow Wow Wow rhythms of ‘Spider Spider’, there’s nothing as good as the best of those bands, or as adorably unhinged as Altered Images’ early classic ‘Dead Pop Stars’. There are, unfortunately, a few songs where the shrill, out-of-tune vocals and repeat-to-distraction rhythms seriously get on one’s tits, the hackneyed and hysterical ‘Psycho Girl’ being the worst offender.

That said, there’s enough done right here to make you think Vulkano are worth keeping an ear out for. It’s just that it always feels they’re trying a bit too hard to emulate their inspirations, reaching for a sound they can’t quite achieve, their failing mirrored in the too-frequent cracking of the singer’s voice. When they hold back a little the results are actually really something, as on ‘The Jungle’ where the Annabella Lwin-style sing/talk/shout vocals work fantastically well against the lo-fi keyboard abuse.

This track and the straight-ahead punk charge of ‘2 Young 2 Die’ point the way forward. If Vulkano can be both more aggressive and less obvious, less clearly in thrall to their musical idols, they could really go somewhere. In the meantime, at least they’re taking their cues from interesting places. 

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