The Veils – Troubles Of The Brain (Pitch Beast/Native Tongue) CD REVIEW

The Veils are one of those “bands” that are, to all intents and purposes, the work of one man. He’s Finn Andrews, and already has three well-received albums, released through UK indie label Rough Trade, behind him.

Incidentally, Andrews is also the son of Barry Andrews, a keyboardist from the ‘80s with an enviable reputation, having led his own group Shriekback, as well as performing with the likes of Robert Fripp and XTC.

Finn Andrews obviously grew up listening to folk-rock, and his albums bear an uncanny resemblance to the work of Echo & The Bunnymen at their least strident, mainly because his voice has the same rough-hewn, cracked characteristics as that of Ian McCullough. His own songwriting has developed at pace, however, and by Sun Gangs in 2009, any similarities to other groups were getting superficial.

Troubles Of The Brain is a seven-song CD tagged as an EP, and appears to be a stop-gap, or an attempt to get to introduce fans to process and progress, rather than finished product.

The first and last song sound very much like demos, and are produced by Andrews; the rest sound like they were made in a rush, but are blessed with the production of former Suede guy Bernard Butler.

All these songs have qualities, but none sound like anything more than sketches, and their short running times (generally around two-and-a-half minutes) prevent any real development. A case in point is easily the best song, ‘The Wishbone’, an imaginative bit of freak-folk with a cool chord progression.

The last two songs opt for (more or less) just voice and guitar, and maybe this is Andrews testing the water to see if his fans will follow him to solo performance and away from the cost of maintaining a full band on the road. The opening, ‘Bloom’, has a more conventional indie sound; strum’n’drone and a bit of Waterboys. ‘Don’t Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice’ is clearly influenced by The Kinks in their jaunty music-hall phase… or is it by Blur’s later reimaging of that? These days, it’s hard to tell.

While fans may enjoy the Troubles Of The Brain EP, the rest of us may find ourselves perplexed. For myself, I’m happy to skip the demo process and wait for the album. GARY STEEL

Music = 3

Sound = 2.5

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