The Veils have been through many changes since their inception in 2002. But while the band has seen its share of band members come and go, the pillar known as Finn Andrews has remained the same. Keeping with a series of cryptic album titles (The Runaway Found, Nux Vomica) the band has decided to name their latest full length LP Sun Gangs (Rough Trade). This time around the band has provided a nice mlange of songs ranging from gritty rock anthems, to some more subdued, even eerie pieces, resulting in what can only be described as their most diverse record to date.
Lead singer Finn Andrews, who is known for his vocal flexibility, returns on Sun Gangs with more of the same incredible vocals that have captured the hearts of fans from the band's hometown of Auckland, New Zealand to here in North America. As he's demonstrated in the past, Andrews' shows a great deal of vocal versatility on Sun Gangs. On songs such as "Three Sisters" and "Larkspur" Andrews' voice is at its grittiest, sometimes moving into frantic territory. On the other hand, songs like "The House She Lived In" and "Scarecrow" expose a softer, more vulnerable side of Andrews' vocals. Appropriately, when the accompanying music is at its softest, Andrews' vocals mimic the mood perfectly, almost as if adapting to circumstances it is put in.
Among Sun Gangs' most rocking moments, "Killed by the Boom" describes the untimely death of some sort of dancer to a wail of screeching guitars and pounding drums. "Larkspur", the album's longest track, clocks in at 8:33; quite in contrast to the rest of the songs on the album. In it, Andrews intones, "Always a larkspur, no rest for my heart" throughout the first four minutes of the song, evoking a sort of eerie, trance-like feeling. The song culminates with the endless chant of "Know that something got a hold on me", in what is perhaps the album's loudest and strangest moment. He also gets a little bit weird on "The House She Lived In". This song wouldn't have sounded as odd coming from some other bands, but from the Veils it is definitely a leap in a different direction. Delicate piano and a swooning string section back-up Andrews' vocals in what is arguably the band's catchiest song to date.
There is certainly something for everyone here, as the band flirts with more different styles on one record than ever before. For a band that has been through as many ups and downs as the Veils, this album can only be seen as a great success. In any event, it seems like the current lineup captures the perfect combination of talent and passion...something that may have been missing in the past. One can only hope that the future will hold some stability, leading to many more albums of this quality. Or perhaps it is this instability that leads to such great music. That is for you to judge.