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on 24 July 2009
Finn Andrews continues his Jeff Buckley-cum-Nick Cave-circa-Murder Ballads vocal odyssey as the figurehead of the seemingly perennial outsiders Veils. Peddling earnest piano-ballads and considered indie rock with a solid dash of Echo And The Bunnymen-gloom, Bernard Butler-produced `Sit Down By The Fire' sounds as it ought to, a bit like Dog Man Star. `The Letter' is what Interpol's Our Love To Admire should have sounded like, all spooky walls of sound and aimed at the correct distance from the charts.

It all goes a little Dig, Lazarus, Dig on `Killed By The Boom', the emotive vitriol becomes spoken and frenzied. Ed Harcourt bobs in from time to time with his Hammond organ. Assorted strings and a change of pace and mood in `The House She Lived In' provide welcome variety, if not heavyweight merit. Nowhere is Veils' maturity however more evident on the deservedly indulgent and epic `Larkspur', which rolls around the tale-end of the album, writhing like colliding weather fronts before releasing pouring anguish after a lull before the break. Andrews exorcises over tribal drumming, heavy, gothic bass and protesting, high-end guitar work. Remember, this album started in Suede-country, and closes in cyclical piano outro, acknowledging the fact with the track's title, `Begin Again'.

Sun Gangs is an inventive experience but one that rarely challenges. It is somehow a natural extension of both albums before it, yet sufficiently different to discuss evolution. The Veils started in the 60s with a respectful collection of light and fragile jangles before embracing the dark, eye-linered side and allowing their inner, love-spurned romantic out. On Sun Gangs, this battered heart is lifted and offered to the listener, literally on its sleeve.
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The Veils have been waiting and waiting for something to blow over, for some kind record store chain to go wild and welcome the band into a world of more exposure, more attention, more record sales:
"Some day, a little rain is bound to fall"
Or have they?
Because it's been proven, or at least it may as well have been proven that with less pressure comes better production. It seems relevant to mention Elbow just one more time. Their consistency relied on what I believe to be a sheer lack of a load on their backs, no record label heads peering their heads through the studio door, tapping at their watch. The Veils are by no means a rich bunch but from the start they had critical acclaim, acknowledgement of their achievements. Far from being ignored but far from being forgotten, their third record, `Sun Gangs' is yet another should-be breakthrough album, and a continuation of the flawless form Finn Andrews and his cronies find themselves in.

Inside lurks the sound of a band having fun, challenging their own boundaries and modernising their sound with the click of a finger. It's Andrews' songwriting, both diverse and unchangeable inquality, that pulls the album from a heap of contemporaries and gives it prominence. A reliance on perfect choruses (see `The Letter' and `Killed By The Boom') and the occasional digression into something more experimental and forward-thinking makes this nothing new in the Veils' books, but something frighteningly exciting for the casual listener.

There's a rich blend of edgy anthems and melancholic ballads, each offering something new throughout. `Three Sisters' gives mention to Muse, with an elongated cry of "Oh my God!" during the chorus, whereas the more light-hearted `The House She Lived In' sounds like a more compressed Wave Pictures, excluding the food imagery. There's such continuous variety but somehow, `Sun Gangs' fails to sound puzzled or overwhelmed, instead giving a feel of being perfectly as one, with such a straightforward flow between one track and its predecessor.

Andrews remains as heartfelt as ever with his delivery("I'd offer my soul, if I thought it might help at all"), and this assists the record from sounding unauthentic, with such glossy production from Graham Sutton. On the one hand, there isn't a dull moment to grasp at. On the other, there's nothing to give The Veils a healthy glow so that they can be the next of the bunch to be picked for radio airplay and stadium headline shows, in the sense that everything's either too edgy or maybe a little unoriginal. But credit to the band, they've stuck to their game and they're fortunate enough to be able to do so. As long as `Sun Gangs' doesn't go platinum and EMI don't steal the rights from Rough Trade, we can expect yet another near-unmarred collection of songs.
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VINE VOICEon 13 April 2009
As Jack Crawford ,the FBI boss says in Silence Of The Lambs [DVD] [1991] you should never assume ,as it just "makes an ass of u & me" . Or something like that . Anyway I'm a bit of an ass when it comes to this album as I assumed, wrongly as it turns out , what this band would be like only to discover they are ,in actuality nothing like expected at all. So apologies to The Veils .I seem to be apologising a lot lately for which I am very sorry .
What did I expect then ? Does anyone care? Well to keep the thread of the review going I expected a band driven by flagellating guitars and big loud choruses , the sort of thing bands like The Fratelli,s and Razorlight would like to do but is beyond their capability. That does happen on Sun Gangs to some extent but the music is in reality far more diverse , introspective and moody than that. Do not let that put you off, if it has, because Sun Gangs is in fact really rather good.
A four piece band backed by Hammond organ (courtesy of Ed Harcourt) cello, violin and viola the songs written by vocalist Finn Andrews( Born in London , raised in New Zealand his father is keyboard player Barry Andrews -ex XTC and Shriekback) are intensely temperamental and portentous. Even a relatively jaunty track like "The House She Lived In" , the albums weakest moment ,topped by sprightly piano , ends up sounding like it's intoning some apocalyptic prophecy. Ballads like the spectral "Scarecrow" the lovely title track and the slow drip pathos of "It Hits Deep" throb with tension and invest fairly mundane couplets like "Hope There's someone/ I've been down so long ". with tangible emotional clout.
The more up-tempo tracks thrum with the kind of intensity specialised by Radiohead ,though on the overlong "Larkspur " Andrews comes over all fervently evangelical like Nick Cave circa From Her To Eternity . The clashing neutered chords recall that album as well ."Three Sisters" is a widescreen epic, like Devotchka covering The Moody Blues. They do sound worryingly like Coldplay at times though on album opener "Sit Down By The Fire " and on " The Letter" the chiming Coldplay-esque chords are supplanted by gleaming magnificence that recalls The Chameleons . If you are going to sound like someone better make it someone really good . That's my tip for the day.
Quite what led me to expect an album of pert power pop ....well clearly I wasn't paying attention when I read the reviews. Probably apologising for something or other. But you know what .I am not in the least bit sorry that I bought this bluesy slyly melodic album. I doubt anyone else would be sorry about owning it either.
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on 3 April 2016
Yeah, you won't find anyone else's heart smack dab in the middle of a constellation chart. Get this album for your ears, they will appreciate it.
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on 21 August 2009
It's almost as if Nux Vomica never happened. The dark, angst-driven and utterly over powering sophomore effort is absolutely lost in Sun Gangs. The first track is exceptional, combing what The Veils do best: climb and fall, build and release, bottle and explode, all with the direction and subtlety that combines credibility with perfect pop. Somewhere around the middle track appears 'The House That She Lived In' and this too is a stand-out track. Finn confides in the listener, expressing his love for a woman who'll never again return it, and how he'd give anything if it would bring her back. Other than perhaps the last track, the rest of the album stinks. It's slow, down-beat, devoid of any real power, and lacks the bite that gave Nux Vomica its edge. Sun Gangs is a big step back...
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on 23 April 2009
Like Burroughs said there are no genius's, but occasionally one is possessed by genius and Mr Finn is just that at times. Covering the 3 albums there are 10 tracks right up there with the best of the decade. TRKS 1, 2, 7, 8 AND 10 on Gangs. Go and buy the others to find your rest.
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on 23 April 2009
Strange mix of Neil Young, Nick Cave with a heavy dash of scottish and some big tunes. Well worth a listen, but sounds strangely like a compilation album of different artists than one band's work.
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on 30 January 2015
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