Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The Fairest Of Them All? New Album ‘Smoke, Mirrors & Other Half Truths’

The Violets are back and better than ever with a new 7-track album entitled ‘Smoke, Mirrors & Other Half Truths’. If the name itself doesn’t pull listeners in, the songs will.

Formed in Adelaide, Australia back in 1990, The Violets racked up plentiful success. They signed with Phantom Records, played festivals such as Big Day Out, and supported artists such as Nick CaveSonic YouthDire Straits and Iggy Pop. They had released two albums and six EPs but were forced to take a mid-90s hiatus due to personal reasons. However, with music more sophisticated than ever, The Violets are back on the scene.

In fact it seems that time apart may have done this band some good as they seem to be more cohesive in their sound than ever. Their production is tight, the vocals are never overbearing and they display a real feel for timing and song-construction. COVID of course was the great catalyst and after almost 20 years of no real contact, the band had written most of the new album within a day of being back together in the studio.

The band is known for sitting somewhere between genres at all times. Even in the songs where they seem to commit to one sound, there is an element that throws the listener off and keeps the tracks from being one note. Take the lead-in track ‘Sideways’ for example. The instrumental has a Dire Straits flavour while the vocals sound more Brit pop. The bridge on the other hand turns much darker in melody which suits the expressive nature of the lead singer’s vocals. ‘Love Lies In The Rain’ on the other hand has a more cohesive, lighter sound to it. Here is where one can really hear the 90s origins of the band.

The Violets should be lauded for their willingness to experiment. Many of their tracks carry very cinematic arrangements interspersed in catchy guitar riffs and stripped back vocals. ‘My Whole World’ for example included a Casio element which really adds to the track. ‘Shaken & Stirred’ meanwhile, as the title suggests, has a more mysterious James Bond energy to it. In this one they play with the juxtaposition between the lead vocals and (unnamed) female guest vocals and with the addition of some quirky Casio solos, this song is a fun one.

All Went South’ has a very catchy bass lead which is only enhanced by the guitar accompaniment. This song sounds the most alt-rock of the bunch and is also the cleanest sounding. The vocals blend well, as do the layered harmonies which the band seems to be fond of. Meanwhile ‘April’s Fool’ takes an almost Simon & Garfunkel direction with its guitar playing. A darker song, this track is another one of their more cinematic pieces.

Their closing track is a slow burn but a great way to finish the album. ‘Here I Am’ has everything a listener might want: a darker alt-rock feel, excellently layered harmonies, a good mix and a wonderful guitar solo.

The Violets have proven that new music is better late than never. ‘Smoke, Mirrors & Other Half Truths’ is out on all streaming platforms now.

Chloe Boehm


Image: ‘Smoke, Mirrors & Other Half Truths’ Official Album Cover

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